Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 End of Year Survey

My End of Year Book Survey 

I haven't done one of these before, but it looks like fun, so here we go!
This is hosted by Jamie over at her blog, so click here to get more info, link your own post, etc!
My survey will be a tad different; I'll just pick out a few questions from the many original questions to answer. 

1) The best book I read in 2013?
I have to pick two! I'm sorry!

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. 
Books don't just win Newbery Medals for no reason! Here's a full post on what I thought about this book.
It was beautiful. Charming. Funny. Magical.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.
Probably one of my favourite Sophie Kinsella novels, if not my very tippy top favourite. 
Hilarious fun with deliciously exciting characters, flapper dresses and Charleston dancing.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

I had a lot of fun writing Goodreads status updates for this one as I read through it. 
You can see them here.

This was a rather intense one. I know it's called The Husband's Secret so I should have expected some mystery and twists, but there's some heavy stuff that these characters deal with! For example: grief, guilt, betrayal, the blurred line between right and wrong, and murder. There were also lots of secrets and tragedies.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

I've just been sitting two metres away from my laptop just now, on the couch, reading the last pages of this book. Now I'm here. This little 'my thoughts on...' post will be a tad different, I'll be writing (and rating) in a more segmented fashion. Hope you don't mind. I'll give a rating out of 5 for each category and then at the end we'll see what the average turns out to be! But FYI, the rating I've given this novel on Goodreads is 4 stars. :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

story time | wineskin in the smoke {original}

This past semester I took the 2nd year creative writing unit (last year I took the 1st year one; technically I'm a 3rd year but they weren't offering the 3rd year creative writing unit this sem) and I had a wonderful 3 hour writing workshop every week on Wednesday at 9am. I had a really great group of people in my workshop and although we had 30 in a class ideally meant for like, 12, I still took some good stuff out of it. 

I could ramble on about my creative writing class until kingdom come, but that's either a post for another time or a post that I should never publish for your own sake lest I bore you to the brink of death. I'll probably write it up and post it either way. Tough luck for ye who click on THAT.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

QUICK UPDATE WITH MOI: Sorry I've been a little AWOL these past several weeks. It was the worst month of the year! Not just because the seasons have changed and I've been sneezing and getting bitten by bugs like a maniac, but because I've had soo many assignments and an exam and we're just about ready to call it the end of my tertiary studies! But now all I have left is my practicum placement unit (interning at Westerly Magazine), so I'll have plenty more time for reading and reviewing and videos and hauls et cetera! 


(a different sort of review. as usual, spoilers may lurk. beware: my thoughts are laconic tonight.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

A few weeks ago I had a new bookshelf added into my bedroom and as I re-organised books onto my new shelf (I was categorising all my chick lit novels together), I looked at Can you keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella and suddenly it dawned on me, the book was stiff - the spine wasn't bent at all, it still looked brand new and I said, "Have I not read this? I thought I'd read every single Sophie Kinsella book there is!" (not verbatim) But I hadn't. Somehow this little purple book flew under my radar (I must have had this book in my possession for a few years now) and I remedied the situation STAT.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Vanilla Skies" ~~ an original poem

Hello again.

In two days, well, in less than two days, I have to submit to my creative writing class a piece of writing (a story) that I've yet to sit down and write. Woops! Well, my plan is to start tonight (or to be honest, my original plan was to write everyday since the start of semester but that didn't happen) and while I was sifting through old drawers of scraps and notes and scribbles to find inspiration (I can't ever get enough of that stuff) I found a folded sheet of file paper from one afternoon five years ago.

It was the 29th of July, 2008, and I was sitting on the right hand side of my Geometry and Trigonometry classroom right next to the window near the front of the class. If I recall correctly, it was the period after lunch and instead of doing my maths work I was writing a poem! I have some really nice, fond memories from Year 11 - although often they remain tucked neatly away behind the cobwebs in my mind - and one of those is creative writing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Haul! Save the Children Book Sale

About a month or so ago I went to the Save the Children book sale which was happening on campus at my uni, about 100 metres away from my classes, and it just so happened I checked out the sale on the day everything was half-price! By that point it was probably the penultimate day of the sale, which had been going on for a couple of weeks. But I managed to find a few good ones I think! There was still a whole BUNCH (by bunch, I mean like, an enormous amount) of books still being sold, amongst other things like dvds and cds, etc. I was quite overwhelmed by it all - there was just so much to take in. 

Watch the video below if you wanna see what I ended up getting! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I don't know where to start, talking about this wonderful book. So I think I'll just let all my thoughts fall out messily in a heap on this floor I call a blog post. I bought The Graveyard Book in the Strand bookstore in New York City at the end of last year. I had been curious to read something by Neil Gaiman, and I saw this book of his on display and it looked good enough for me to buy, and I did. 
And I'm so glad I did. 
I mean, it only took me 8 or 9 months to actually pick it up and read, but still. BUT STILL! I haven't read a book this good (or that I enjoyed so much) in a long time. Granted, I don't do anywhere near as much reading as I should be doing. 

Being the first Neil Gaiman book I've read, going into it I didn't know what to expect except perhaps some decent writing and a cool story. Honestly, I don't go into any consumption of pop culture with many expectations because I like to sit back and soak in whatever the creator has made. I began reading the first few pages out loud for fun (this is something I do more often than seems normal) and I was sucked in immediately. The first few pages are creepy and intriguing and might even give you chills, but it only gets better from there. There are ghosts, ghouls, a witch, a Sleer, cold-blooded murderers, a midnight Danse Macabre, magic and mystery galore.

The story is of a little toddler whose family is brutally killed in the night by 'the man Jack'. The man Jack is meant to kill the entire family but the toddler takes a walk (the man Jack left the front door open) out of his house, down the street, up the hill and into a graveyard, thus managing to escape the murderous knife-wielding hands of the man Jack. There the graveyard folk (the dead who were buried there) meet him, decide to look after him, and give him protection from the man Jack by raising him up in the graveyard. They name him Nobody, or Bod for short. A lot of crazy adventures ensue, as each chapter of the book is presented as its own short story, and it all culminates toward Chapter 7 where we find out why the man Jack murdered Bod's whole family and all the rest. 

There are definitely some creepy undertones in The Graveyard Book but above it all is so much heart and so much warmth in this novel, especially within the characters. I love the characters so much. There are some hilarious ones, especially a few of the graveyard folk, but mostly I loved Bod, Silas and Liza Hempstock. UGH AND WHEN LIZA WAS SAYING HER GOODBYE TO BOD!!!! That got me. It got me good. 

I've seen a lot of people around the internet saying how scary it was and honestly, I'm the sort of person who would never, ever voluntarily watch a scary movie, a horror movie or anything even remotely like that, nor am I a fan of scary books. To me, at least, The Graveyard Book was not at all a scary book. Creepy, yes, at points. But at the core, the story is lovely, warm and full of heart. The theme of family (and love) underlies the whole plot, and though there are some rather unpleasant flesh-eating ghouls and an ancient organisation of murderers, Neil Gaiman wrote those characters in a light and delicate fashion that wouldn't give any fully-developed human being bad dreams. That being said, on the back of the book it reads "Ages 10 up", and personally I wouldn't dare read this to any child younger than that.

I think anyone who can read and who likes to read a good story cannot (CANNOT) be disappointed by this book. It's stunningly written, it has top notch characters, the story is superb, everything to do with the way everything is structured and delivered is perfect. 
I didn't see the twist coming, although I had my suspicions much earlier... I still didn't see it coming. It was fantastic.

I'm definitely going to be reading a lot more by Neil Gaiman in the future. And I seriously cannot wait for the movie. IT NEEDS TO BE MADE AND COME OUT ALREADY! (I'm listening to Camille Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre as I type this and I'm visualising the dead dancing with the humans; Bod dancing with the Lady on the Grey in that scene)
I rate The Graveyard Book FIVE sparkly well-deserved stars.

P.S. The Graveyard Book has won numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal in 2009! (Just to give you more incentive to get your hands on this little gem of a book)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

An Interview with Laura M Kolar || Canvas Tour

As part of The Canvas Tour, I had the chance to interview Laura M Kolar, debut author of Canvas Bound, a young adult fantasy about a girl whose paintings literally come to life. 
If you haven't already, you can see my review of Laura's new novel here.

How did the "captive art" idea spring to mind?
It was a combination of things. I’d recently had knee surgery and the pain meds gave me some pretty crazy dreams. I’d also just watched several of the Harry Potter movies where all the paintings came to life.

Are you an artist yourself? 
Sadly, no. I took watercolor in high school and some of those turned out okay, but the closest I get to doing artwork now is coloring with my six-year-old.

Who are some of your favourite artists?
The list could go on, and on, and on. But I will say that I tend to like landscapes more than portraits or still-lifes, which is probably why that’s what Libby ended up painting. In my original story she was very good at doing portraits and kept painting one of a boy she’d never met.

What juicy hints of future Captive Art instalments can you divulge? *winkwink*
It’s so funny you ask this question because Captive Art was originally written as a standalone story, but when I got to the end, I realized I’d left a few characters with some serious unfinished business. What’s funnier is I’d written in hints for the next two books without even realizing I done it at the time. I’ll give you a couple more though, 1) If all goes well, I plan on it being a trilogy, though not entirely from Libby’s POV, 2) Aldridge Academy is full of gifted artists, and 3) Travis gives away bigger clues than I do.

How long did it take you to write the novel from start to finish?
Sixty days of writing and a year and a half of editing before I submitted to Red Adept Publishing.

Was the publishing process difficult?
Yes, writing the book was easier. Publishing a book takes a thick skin, patience and perseverance, three things I’m pretty lucky to have, though not usually at the same time.

Who are your literary influences?
Mandy Hubbard, Anna Banks and Veronica Rossi.

Favourite book of all time?
There are too many to choose from, but I especially love the books by the ladies listed above, as well as To Katie With Love by my critique partner Erica Lucke Dean, for obvious reasons.


Huge thanks to Laura for answering all my questions!
In case you haven't already entered, you can enter the giveaway on The Canvas Tour page (or on my review post, it's the same one).
Make sure to check out the other stops on the tour while you're there. ;)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Canvas Bound by Laura M Kolar | CANVAS TOUR | Review


As part of the blog tour for Laura M Kolar's Canvas Bound, I'm participating with two posts - today's is my review and on September 7th I'll be posting an exclusive interview with the author, Laura, right here on C&M! 

Now onto the post! 

Canvas Bound by Laura M Kolar
(Book #1 of the Captive Art series )

The thing that prompted me to join this blog tour was the main concept of the novel - painting artwork that came to life... paintings you could literally step into - the idea fascinated me and it turned out to be what I loved most about the book. Click here to read the synopsis - it's what made me want to read the book in the first place and join the blog tour (which, by the way is something I never do - I have never had the inclination to participate in one of these until now!). Do read the blurb-y bit; I'm afraid I won't be divulging any juicy plot details because more often than not, my plot re-tells transform into a horribly tedious rambling.

Canvas Bound is a lovely little debut novel, and for me it was a pretty quick and easy read (and fun too, duh!) - in my books this is always a good thing. It captivated me from the very beginning and that's another really important thing for me when I pick up a book - it's gotta catch my attention from the word GO and Canvas Bound did. 

The character relationships in Canvas Bound were developed well - I really enjoyed reading Dean and how Libby's relationship with him developed. I was totally shipping #Dibby from the very start. Although I did have a chuckle (or more of a snort, even) when we found out his full name was Dean James... perhaps pointing to a certain dashing Old Hollywood star a little too obviously. For some reason I liked the male characters better than Libby or any other female in the book. Libby, to me, unfortunately wasn't the most believable character. She was oftentimes an emotional wreck, and being the protagonist of the novel, we get to see a lot of Libby being totes emosh or chucking small tantrums. Some of the dialogue between her and other characters seemed a bit mechanical, a bit inorganic or unnatural, but despite her shortcomings, I always rooted for her. 

I really appreciated a lot of the pop culture references that were thrown in - classic films, actors and artists. I always find joy in finding that shared appreciation of a particular "something" of the arts, whether it be a classic movie, an actor or a song.

Overall I really did enjoy reading Canvas Bound - the unique concept drew me in and the story was compelling and so packed full of mystery that I just had to keep reading until the end. If you're as intrigued as I was to read this, I'd highly suggest giving it a go. But don't worry, you won't have any apples thrown at you from inside the book like Libby had from in her painting.

My rating: 3.5 stars.

Thanks for sticking it out 'til the end of the post, because guess what? 
You can enter a GIVEAWAYa Rafflecopter giveaway!! 

And stay tuned because I'll be back for another stop on the tour to give you my author interview with Laura M Kolar in a few days. :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

new on my bookshelf: billy and me

I got something in the mail yesterday! Gi Fletcher's debut novel Billy and Me. :) 
I know Giovanna because she's Tom Fletcher's wife... and I know Tom not because he's from McFly but because he is Carrie's brother! Carrie Hope Fletcher as you may know her on YouTube. 
I'm obsessed with Youtube and British Youtubers especially, and I've been watching Carrie for a while now. But enough about her, let's talk about Gi! She and Tom post the cutest, most adorable song covers on Tom's YouTube channel. Also, the pixiwoo sisters Sam and Nic Chapman did Giovanna's makeup on their channel whilst interviewing her about her life and Billy and Me
Here is that video: 

Also, you can read more about Billy and Me on its Goodreads page here.

I'm excited to read this and I've heard so many great things about it as well - even Alex Day dedicated a video to it! I'll just go ahead and stick that video in here too.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Interview with Wanda Wiltshire.

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the author of Betrothed - Wanda Wiltshire! 
It's a debut fantasy YA and I posted my thoughts on it here.
And here's another picture of the book below! 
(I mean, you can't get enough of that cover, am I right?)

Anyway, let's just get on with it then! 
I hope you enjoy :)

So I thought I'd start with a fun, easy question: What was it like seeing Betrothed as a real book for the very first time, flipping through the pages of the finished copy?
It was amazing, Arielle! I’d been counting down the days for ages! The gorgeous cover, the dedications, the little swirls between scenes – it was all so lovely! But what made it really magical was that it arrived in time for my dad to hold in his hands and read while he was still well enough to do so. When he finished, he declared it very well written and couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it – high praise from my father! But as you can imagine, the ending threw him and he did have lots of questions! So, I sat on his bed and answered every one of them. He passed away a few weeks later.  

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer and storyteller?
I probably should have, but I didn’t. Looking back through the years, the signs were certainly there – good marks in English, an interest in writing poetry, the beginnings of a book when I was very young. But until five years ago, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do with my life! I think a lack of self-confidence got in the way. 

How did your writing journey begin?
A few years ago I was going through a horrible time – the kind of time that makes you question the meaning of life. These questions eventually led me to God. After a while I realised that if He created me, he must have done so for a purpose. It was one of those incredible light bulb moments and immediately I threw my voice to heaven and asked Him what that purpose was. ‘Write a book,’ came the instant reply. Not feeling equal to the task, I argued for a little while, but the still quiet voice was insistent, ‘Write a book.’

How did the idea for Betrothed originate?
‘God wants me to write a book!’ I told my daughter soon after I’d received the direction. She gave me an eyebrow lifted look and said, ‘Whatever mum.’ ‘No, really!’ I said. So we spent the rest of the day trying to come up with an idea. We had zilch. That night I went to bed and prayed. ‘God, I hear you, but if you want me to write a book, you’d better send me an idea because I’ve got nothing!’ I promptly fell asleep. The next morning in that time between sleeping and waking, Betrothed slipped into my mind! I jumped out of bed, raced to the computer and started writing!  

How did you go about naming the characters? (Also, I'm quite a stickler for correct pronunciation - I would love to know how Leif is pronounced! L-ee-fL-ay-f? And also King Telophy? These fae have such peculiar names!)
This is something I’ve actually put very little thought into. All of the main characters came to me with names and I couldn’t have changed them even if I wanted too. As for the lesser characters, the names were revealed to me as they were written into the story. The only conscious decision I’ve made was to change the original name of the character, Simone.
I’m so glad you asked about pronunciation – it’s important to me too! Leif is pronounced L-ay-f and King Telophy, King Tel-eh-fee. 

Do you know any people in your everyday life that are like the characters in the novel? 
Only so far as you might say one person is similar to another. My characters are their own people – unique as anyone else. I have, however, kept my eyes peeled these last four years in the hope of finding an actor/model/seriously gorgeous guy who physically resembles Leif – a very tall order! I found him recently when I was holidaying on the Gold Coast, and oh my goodness, he was perfect! I could almost see a pair of dazzling wings sprouting from his back! The funny thing was, he had very good likenesses of both Marla and Jack working alongside him! I think I can be forgiven for my focus being almost entirely on Leif! If I told you the real names of these people, you would think it a very strange coincidence indeed. 

In five words, describe what we can expect from Allegiance.
Twists, romance, mind-blowing surprises! 

Can you promise us that the cover for Allegiance will be as beautifully stunning as Betrothed's? :)
Absolutely I can! 

So I can tell it's pretty clear you're a lover of the fanstastical and magical - I myself am very much the escapist - what are some of your all-time favourite fairytales or fantasy novels? 
When I was a little girl, I loved The Enchanted Woods by Enid Blyton. I read this book many a time. These days my favourites would be Melina Marchetta’s The Lumatere Chronicles and Maggie Stiefvaters, Shiver series. I also adored Margot Lanagan’s, Sea Hearts! I love fabulous stories with writing as beautiful as poetry, and in my opinion, all of these authors nail it!

And one final one, who are your favourite writers of all time? 
To those I mentioned above, I would add Jane Austen and Anne Rice : )

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Name Game Book Tag

I saw this book tag floating around the YouTubez and it looked really easy and fun to do so I did it!

I wasn't tagged by anybody, but I tag all of you! 

Entangled review: here
Lola & the Boy Next Door review: here

Books mentioned: 
Ariel by Sylvia Plath
Rhubarb by Craig Silvey
I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Entangled by Cat Clarke
Lola & the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Original Name Game Book Tag created by KimberleysBookNook

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Betrothed by Wanda Wiltshire

Betrothed by Wanda Wiltshire
(If you live in/near Sydney, Wanda's book launch is happening at Dymocks on George St on June 27)

Betrothed is Australian author Wanda Wiltshire's debut novel - it is being released on July 1st, 2013 and I was so kindly sent a copy from Pantera Press. 
Fortunately, I read it as soon as I received it and I really enjoyed it (it was a lovely distraction from working on my research essays) - but unfortunately, that was about a month ago and I can't believe I kept putting off posting my thoughts on it for so long.  
But now the day has come, the release date is drawing near, and if you enjoy reading YA fantasy, I encourage you to go online, or to Dymocks, or wherever you have to go to get your little (or big, I don't know what size your hands are) hands on this excellent debut novel. 
I wrote a brief Goodreads review shortly after I finished reading Betrothed so it has more of my immediate feelings - check that out here.

Betrothed is half set in the real world - modern day Australia, and half set in Faera - the world of fae (or faeries). This was really interesting because the main character, Amy (aka Marla) sits on the edge of both worlds. She gets the best (and worse) of both worlds. Hannah Montana theme song reference not intended. She grew up in Australia, but she isn't human, and therefore not exactly meant for this world. Marla is fae, and her betrothed - Leif - is a fae prince. She meets him in her dream. It's crazy but there's an explanation I won't go into because I'm no good at plot retell and I'd end up rambling for way too long. You just have to read it!
The mix of fantasy and reality was really nice to see because normally you only have one or the other. Amy/Marla has her human friends and (adopted) family who all love her so much, but she doesn't belong in the human world - she belongs with her betrothed, she belongs in the realm of fae. She also longs to find her biological mum and dad - her fae parents who abandoned her. 
Faera was an exciting, enchanting place to read about. There are just so many exciting, enchanting things in this book! Marla's wings, the markets in Faera, the royal court, Leif in general....
I was not happy with the ending, but only in that the ending was not a happy one. Things weren't resolved very nicely but it is a series after all, so the ending just made me want to read more and get hold of the sequel (Allegiance) right away.
There's little for me to criticise - hmm I guess some of the dialogue seemed to me a bit unrealistic at times (I know the faeries all speak like they're ancient and that's fine, but I meant dialogue between humans), and beware, there is a love triangle going on but don't worry, the winner is victorious from the get go. 

I haven't read a lot of other YA books with faeries other than the Wicked Lovely series, and Betrothed reminds me a little of that, except it's not as creepy. It's a bit lighter than the Wicked Lovely books, and I like that about it.

My Rating: 4 stars! 

Click here to see my Goodreads review of Betrothed

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Monday, June 24, 2013

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread by Kate DiCamillo

Thank you to my lovely book blogger pal Jess for giving me this copy. It's the hardcover edition with ripped page edges and it's beautiful. 

This was a super quick read, and definitely a thousand times better than the film adaptation. 
The narrator tells the story in second person - to you, the reader! Or to me, as it were. It was a change from most of the books I've read in the past and I welcomed it. 
The main difference between the film and the book is the character of Roscuro. In the movie he is portrayed as quite benevolent, friendly and innocent, whilst in the book he is much more hard-hearted and just... evil. 
Apart from the murderous, duplicitous rats, the characters were cute and lovely to read, and even quite touching in parts - especially in the chapter where Despereaux forgives his father for sending him to the dungeons to be eaten by the rats.
Although I enjoyed reading this out loud, I would not read this to young children because the rat-side of the plot (and even the Miggery Sow-side of the plot) was really quite dark and might be too scary for the younger kids. Perhaps in a primary school class-setting it would be a little better... but not in a bedtime story evening setting reading to 5 year olds because they will most likely have nightmares filled with rats and dungeons and darkness and murder. 

My Rating: 3.5 stars

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Friday, June 21, 2013

The Sea of Monsters (PJ&O#2) by Rick Riordan

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan

WHEE!!! I'm only two books in but that's more than enough words read to make me a HUGE fan of this series.
I love this series. 
A lot.
Rick Riordan is an excellent writer and I literally want to get every single book from every single series of his. 
I would eat these books for breakfast if that was a thing people did. 
(You don't have to tell me, I know. I'm weird.)

Anyway, I loved Percy's little-but-not-so-little half-brother (and cyclops) Tyson! He was cute. Not physically, though. And he proved to be incredibly instrumental along the quest. I'd love to have Percy Jackson as my brother but I'd equally love to have Tyson as my brother too. They're both so loyal and pure-hearted, and just really good characters. 
Also, Poseidon really isn't a bad dad to have either. 
And also, I wanna ride on a Hippocampus! 

I really enjoyed the 'quest-within-a-bigger-story' thing that was going on. In other words, there was the immediate quest of rescuing Grover from Polyphemus and getting the Golden Fleece to save Camp Half Blood and cure Thalia's tree, but then there is also the bigger picture - Kronos' plan to destroy Olympus and all of Western civilisation. Luke is working for Kronos and building an army for the evil titan, assembling the pieces of his body... BLURGH, how gross. And then also in the bigger picture there's the prophecy. Well, Kronos and the prophecy are woven together, because Kronos is dependent on it.

And then the cliff-hanger... oh goodness. 
*spoiler alert*
I feel like havoc is bound to be wreaked in the next book with the whole "Thalia-is-back!" situation.
Is Percy supposed to feel threatened by Thalia now? Or safer, because there's less pressure on him to fulfill the prophecy. Or scared, because they're worried Thalia might side with Kronos? 
Anyway, Annabeth said Thalia and Percy were practically the same person.

I don't know when I'll be able to read the next book, because I'm currently under a book-buy-ban. And I have plenty of other books on my shelves waiting to be read first. 

Oooh and who's excited for the movie!!!!?? 

My Rating: 5 stars!!!

The A to Z Book Tag! {video}

I saw JesseTheReader do this on his channel and it looked like so much fun so I had to do it too! 
No one tags me to do these things. But I do them anyway. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Then by Morris Gleitzman

Reading Then brought back all the memories I have from Year 10 English class - reading Once for the first time, The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas... doing our group oral presentation on WW2 novels with my friends Liz and Chulodi... (we got amazing scores for it, woohoo! Thanks, Mrs Murphy). 
I hadn't read Then back then, but I knew it would be much like its predecessor and I went into it knowing very well that the story would be a sad one. 

I think reading these kind of stories - especially as they're children's stories - as an adult, puts things more into perspective and made me perceive the tragedy of WW2 so much clearer.
For some strange reason, I really enjoy reading out loud, even when no one is around. I do this whenever I feel like it or whenever possible, especially with children's books (well, Middle Grade.. I don't really read younger kids' literature). And I read a fair bit of Then aloud to myself too. At some points I actually had to stop because it was choking me up. Sometimes I feel like children's books should never be this sad or such a downer... but at the same time it's clear this series is a masterpiece and addresses the tragic topic beautifully and heartachingly accurately.

I could really go on and on talking about Felix and Zelda, and their family situation/Nazi situation, etc, but I don't think I need to. Felix is young - really young - and the things he goes through and has to deal with is incredible, tragic, heartbreaking, unfair... I've covered it and you'll have/will read it, let's move on.

I read Then when I should have been writing my research essays, but it didn't take a lot of time to read because the writing was so clear and simple (still poignant though) and the story was not a long one.
I would suggest everyone read Once, or Then, or both - unless you're scared of crying.

My rating: 5 stars

Click here to see my Goodreads review.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Winter Holiday Reading!

It's video time again. Just because I can. 

Books mentioned in video:

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Trying War by S.D. Gentill
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

(Reviews coming up soon!):
Betrothed by Wanda Wiltshire
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Then by Morris Gleitzman

Hope you enjoyed the video! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Books I Want To Buy (But Can't Because I Have No Money)

While my bank account, general life spirit and joie de vivre whittles itself down from pathetic to practically non-existent, I'm finding myself left with merely empty wishes and dreams.

So to kick-off from that delightful introductory sentence, this post is going to be filled with books that I want on my bookshelf, but can't afford to go out and buy at the moment. (I tend not to borrow books from the library, not because I'm a snob for cleanliness but because I have too many books on my shelves left unread)
Let's get this thang going.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
I've been waiting for this Kingdom of Cello thing to be released ever since Dreaming of Amelia came out! Jaclyn Moriarty is one of my favourite authors.. like, EVER. Her YA Contemporary novels (the Ashbury series) leave me in stitches so adding fantasy into the equation?.... will probably make me pee my pants. And then explode. That is how much I love Jaclyn Moriarty's books.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
After reading What Alice Forgot, Liane Moriarty immediately joined her sister up there at the top of my list of faves. I went and bought all of Liane's other novels (I haven't read em yet but I need to, ASAP!) way back when, and now that this new one's out, I'm itching to get my little hands on it.

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
There's been quite a long wait between Heist Society #2 and Heist Society #3 (this book). I absolutely LOVED Ally Carter ever since the beginning of the Gallagher Girls series. I actually first found out about Ally Carter from MySpace! THAT WAS THE DINOSAUR AGE, PEOPLE!!!
Normally I'm quick about getting my hands on the new releases of her books, but for some reason I forgot about this or didn't realise it had been released, and now I'm late on the bandwagon!

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
I read Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief early this year when I was vacationing overseas... in fact I bought the first and the second books of the series for pretty cheap when I was in the Strand bookstore in NYC. I know I'm going to love the entire series even though I haven't read the second one yet. The Titan's Curse is the third, and I want it! I will probably end up getting ALLLLLLLL of them. Eventually.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

to read more about the book (synopsis, ratings, etc.) click here

My Star Rating : 3.5 stars

Goodness me. I have a lot of thoughts about this book. They're all floating around in my head. Sometimes I can grasp them and form them into sentences. It's like fishing, the way my mind works. You catch em, you let em go. It's a jumble and it's a jungle. Not really. I just said jungle because it matched poetically with jumble. If my mind is like fishing it can't be a jungle too, can it? More like a swamp.
I guess what I'm trying to say is I don't know how to form this post in a coherent way because all my thoughts about this book are quite random and don't seem to flow well onto each other.
Maybe I'll make some lists again!

I think a lot of people liked Lola & the Boy Next Door a lot more than I did. Base off of Goodreads ratings and my friends on Goodreads' ratings/reviews. 
Why is this?
Perhaps it was Lola.

  • I don't like Lola a whole lot. (Please don't yell at me!) I haven't read many reviews on this book but I've never come across anyone who said they didn't like her. So I'm just putting my own 'pinion out there: I did not like Lola. 
  • I admit she is relatable. She is quirky and daring and not boring. She is creative. She is a human, teenage girl. She is relatable to probably almost everyone (who likes YA). 
  • But not so much to me. She didn't do anything wrong, or anything to make me dislike her, it's just that she was presented in a way that didn't make me care for her. I didn't find myself caring about her. I sympathised... but I didn't fully empathise.
  • She does not deserve Cricket (who is her soul mate, her first love and practically the PERFECT BOY). But she recognises this and acknowledges it, which actually redeemed her a little bit for me.
  • Lola was delusional for the majority of the novel. I get that her situation with Max and Cricket was complex, and I do see the bad-boy appeal of Max (at the beginning he was introduced as the perfect boyfriend, and let's be honest who could resist a smoking hot, older, musician boyfriend?) but it became very clear very fast that Max was not only the wrong guy for Lola, but a bad guy in general. Meanwhile, Cricket was always there. Pretty much at Lola's beck and call. Very much charming, and very much available. The choice was (seemingly) extremely easy. But Lola held onto Max, held onto her unhealthy fantasy and drug, for too long. Lucky for Lola, Cricket was steadfast and unwavering, and simply waiting for her to be ready for him. 
  • Maybe one of the reasons I didn't like Lola was just how amazing a guy Cricket is. He's a great character. He's the kind of guy every girl wants as their OTL. I'm sure every girl not-so-secretly ships themselves with Cricket. He is so blindingly perfect that it's almost disgusting. 

Things I Loved:
  • Cricket. Obviously! See above.
  • San Francisco. The setting of the novel. The gorgeous architecture, the Victorian houses all in different pastel colours, the hilly terrain. I love that city.
  • "The Boy Next Door" aspect. Cricket and Lola are next door neighbours, they are in love and what's more is their bedroom windows perfectly align so they can creep on each other (or in their case, have late night moonlit conversations) through their windows. It's unrealistic, but it's one of those fairytale situations I wish I could be in. A cute boy who is in love with me, and who I'm in love with, climbing across a makeshift bridge from his window to reach my bedroom, yes, I'll take one, thanks.

Things I didn't love:
  • The book cover. I don't like having real people's faces replacing the imaginary faces I form in my head from what the book describes. The cover bothers me because the girl and guy on the front are so pose-y and obvious. I thought the guy was Max at first! Not Cricket. Because the book said Max had a tattoo of a star on his hand. And then it said Cricket had all those wristbands which then made me think the guy on the front was an amalgam of both the characters (which is kinda ridiculous I know). So there was much questioning going on which I think is so completely unnecessary and takes away from story itself. And we're all here for a good ol' storytime, not to get confused by the models on the front cover. 
  • Lola, but I explained this already. :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

(My star rating: 4 stars)
read the synopsis here

Well, despite the 'low' ratings I saw for Wedding Night on Goodreads - I was once again thrown into the wonderful world of Sophie Kinsella.
The magic and beauty of literature is that it allows your spirit to be dynamically shifted by merely looking at the words on a page.
In every Sophie Kinsella book I have read - my mood is lifted, I end up crying, and there is always, always a happy ending. For Wedding Night however, it wasn't a happy ending. It was a BEST ending. Literally, the outcome could not have possibly turned out better for the characters.

You may be wondering why I only gave it a four star rating instead of the usual 4.5 or 5 I normally award S.K. books, so I'm going to tell you why.

The characters were lovely; I did like them a lot, and it was really cool (and necessary) to switch between the narrators Lottie and Fliss, but the hero/s and heroine/s didn't exactly have the (for lack of a better term) epic-ness that past S.K. characters had. A reason why I may have felt this is that the characters in Wedding Night are a fair bit older... Lottie is 33 years old and Fliss is 38. Lottie is all about settling down and Fliss has a 7 year old son and is getting through her divorce. Of course we still get packs and packs of crazy behaviour from the protagonists and lucky for us there are two of them. Double trouble!

The plot didn't have as many layers as I was expecting/hoping for... normally with S.K. you get a huge scandal simmering away underneath the upper layers of plottiness and relationshippy romance stuff. Wedding Night didn't really have that, although that doesn't mean there weren't any heart-wrenching, sob-inducing moments, coz there were a few of those. For example when Fliss has her breakdown in the hotel and Lorcan ushers her into the steamroom to cry it out, or when Richard goes to Arthur to find out about the fire that happened fifteen years ago all to soothe away Lottie's fears, or when he walks up to Lottie on the beachside on Ikinos island and tells Lottie he loves her even though all the hotel guests are watching and her husband is standing right there.

Wedding Night was a funny, light and easy read that still brought out of the all the emotions. So for that I give it full props! Sophie Kinsella still remains one of my favourite authors and I would still recommend this book even though it is not the best S.K. novel out there.

Bonus feature!
Watch me fail at talking about this book!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

new on my bookshelf : wedding night

 I was in Big W today and found this lovely new novel by Miss Kinsella - who, as you should well know by now, is one of my favourite authors of all time. 
I will probably start reading Wedding Night TONIGHT. 

Here is the Goodreads page for the book in case you need a lil bit more info/love Sophie Kinsella and didn't realise she had a new book out. 
OMG I just hopped onto Wedding Night's Goodreads page... I can't believe the ratings are so low! 
I really hope I enjoy this one as much as ALL her others (because I have literally read all of her other books and none disappointed me in the slightest).

Alrighty so that is what's new on my bookshelf - you might be seeing a review soon ;) but 'til then 

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

I wanted to really like this book, and I wanted so much to fall into the story and be immersed in it and feel a strong connection with the characters... but unfortunately that didn't happen. I also wanted to enjoy the writing but that didn't happen either. 
This review is gonna be a few paragraphs and two lists. Normally I would ramble but I don't wanna do that for this book because it might turn out like a complain-y negative rant. 

So first I'll tell you a bit about the story and then list the things I liked and the things I disliked about Lament.
The story is about this sixteen year old girl Deirdre (or Dee) who is a really talented musician with a frankly boring personality. She hates compliments (everyone has always told her how amazingly talented she is as a harpist and how wonderful her voice is, blahblahblah) and she is OCD about scooping icecream. Oh and she  always throws up before a performance due to nerves. Like, every time.
The book begins when she's at a musical performance competition and she MEETS THE GUY FROM HER DREAMS. He appears as she's vomiting in the bathroom and he holds her hair back. (lol) The author doesn't even establish what he was doing in her dreams in the first place. Anyway, they end up performing together (his name is Luke and he plays the flute) and take out the competition. 
I think Dee realises from the get go that there's something strange about this Luke guy. But soon she also realises there is something strange about HERSELF. She is a cloverhand. The blurb of the book says that means she can see faeries, which I don't think is explained the same way in the novel, but oh well. Dee is being stalked by faeries left, right and centre; finding four-leaf clovers EVERYWHERE. Dee nicknames one particularly creepy faerie-stalker "Freckle Freak". She also finds out that she has telekinesis and is telepathic too. Which is useful, I guess. None of this makes her character any more interesting though, sadly. 
I suppose you can already guess that Luke and Dee fall in love, BLAHBLAHBLAH. He saves her loads of times, she saves him, happy ending. 
After typing out that sentence, I pretty much don't have anything left to explain to you about the story.


Things I liked about Lament
1) The character of James, Dee's oldest and bestest friend. Whom Dee does not deserve.
2) Remember Freckle Freak? Well, Dee ended up killing him with an iron nail which led to him exploding into FLOWERS. I would love to see this moment adapted to screen.
3) The focus on music. I love music. Music is quite central to the paranormalcy of the story and to faerie-culture, which I haven't seen a lot of in other re-tellings of fey folklore. Music is definitely a force.
4) The cover. I like the colour combo or white, black and RED. I like the splattery paint blobs, the musical notation, the dove and the cage. I don't like the tagline, however.

Things I disliked about Lament:
1) Maggie Stiefvater's writing - the imagery, the dialogue, the lack of speech tags, I just had so many problems with it. The writing didn't flow for me because every other page I would have to stop and just be awestruck by how nonsensical/unrealistic/tacky the writing would be. Sorry, Maggie. I do like you as a person!
2) The characters (bar James). I didn't particularly like Deirdre or Luke, or their relationship (which seemed forced and frankly unbelievable). But most of my loathing is directed towards Delia, the evil aunt. She wasn't hashed out very well - she was definitely presented as the ultimate villain, YET she was NOT the antagonist to Dee the protagonist. The Queen was. 

Now it may seem from the lists above that I liked the book more than I disliked it, but honestly in terms of importance - writing style and characterisation trump those four other things by MILES. I'm bummed I didn't enjoy the writing and that the characters weren't more endearing, but unfortunately that's the general impression I got from the book. :(

My STAR Rating: THREE STARS (out of five, obvz!)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzimiya by Nagaru Tanigawa is a sci-fi YA novel written in Japanese and translated into English by Chris Pai. I found this little book when I was in New York in December, strolling through the children's section of the Strand bookstore. At first I thought the novel might be Middle Grade rather than YA but then I noticed the "AGES 15 & UP" sign on the back cover. 

To be honest, I didn't finish reading it. It's barely 200 pages in length but I felt so disconnected to the story, the characters and the writing I didn't see what I would gain in reading the last quarter. It definitely had potential in the beginning and even in the middle(ish), and I could forgive all the unexplained things that were introduced at the start because the author was beginning to explain things further on.... but then about 2/3 of the way through, events got a bit crazy, I felt lost and I didn't expect or want my reading of the book to be a difficult one. A lot of time travel/alien things got thrown at me and I felt like they weren't introduced in a way that enticed me to find out more, instead I felt the opposite. So that's mainly why I didn't read on after that point.
But anyway let me tell you a little about the plot.

The protagonist is Kyon, a boy (and also an alien with ESP) who goes to North High school and is in a club called the SOS Brigade with his friends (who are also aliens or time travellers; one is even a robot). It's one week before Christmas Eve and the leader of the group, Hiruhi, is decorating their clubroom and planning their Christmas party. The next day, Kyon wakes up in a parallel universe. The SOS Brigade doesn't exist, Hiruhi doesn't even go to North High, the girl Kyon likes doesn't recognise him, all his friends are now human, his cat doesn't talk anymore and the only chance he has to find out what's happened to him is through his shy, no-longer-robot friend, Nagato. 
That's the simple basis of the novel. 

I didn't particularly like Kyon.. at all, actually. He wasn't UN-likable, but just kind of... a typical teenage boy. His character didn't seem very unique, other than the fact that he had ESP (which wasn't mentioned until later and had me confused as to why his dialogue never had quotation marks). One problem I had was that he felt attracted to all three major female characters in the novel. It wasn't exactly the most affable trait. He didn't have to go on and on about how beautiful Hiruhi was, or how cute Nagato was, or how well-endowed Asahina was. He didn't have to mention having fantasies or dreams about Asahina. He didn't have to tell us those details. I suppose when a writer takes on 1st person POV narrative, they have to know they're investing a lot in that character.

The English translation definitely detracted from the novel a bit - I had to get used to the style of writing. There's always going to be something that gets lost in translation, but it wasn't that big of an issue though. This novel is part of a series, and I suppose another major reason why I didn't finish it is because it didn't explain things for me to understand the story well enough to enjoy it. And this detracted from the novel even more so than the translation. A lot of the time travel/alien aspects referred to terms and other things I think the author may have assumed the reader to know already from the past books of the series. So as one whole, or as a stand-alone, this book doesn't fair that well. 

I bought the book on a whim, really... I was intrigued by the cover and the fact it was written by a Japanese writer, but the book alone just didn't do it for me. Maybe I'll watch the movie to get a better idea of the characters and setting and pick it up again later on. 

STAR RATING : 2.5 out of 5

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt TAG!!!

In case you didn't know... I am kinda addicted to YouTube. And I have been for many years.
I knew about the booktubers (bookish youtubers/vloggers), but I never really subbed to many. Recently though, I found this Aussie booktuber (her channel is LittleBookOwl) and she posted the Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt TAG and it looked like SO MUCH FUN. So I decided to do it too!
The last tag video I did was the Divergent Tag and that was months and months and months ago.
I hope you click play and enjoy my version of the Scavenger Hunt Tag! And if you've done it too, link me to it in a comment on this post or a comment on the video :)

P.S. Sorry I haven't been posting. I haven't had the time to read leisurely (which is a terrible excuse for not taking the effort to make the time...) and I've also been quite depressed and feeling extremely apathetic towards life.
But a few days ago I stumbled across polandbananasBOOKS... aka Christine on youtube. Her videos are passionate, hilarious and they've refueled me a bit and given me some book lovin' motivation to jump into the wonderful world of YA fiction (or just fiction in general) again.

Currently I'm trying to read Ulysses by James Joyce for my Modernism unit in English. It's really, really tough-going. I can't for the life of me understand why anyone in their right mind would voluntarily read this 800 page painstaking trek of a novel. 

Anyway enough of rambling from me. Let me know what you thought of the tag video! I love tags; they're so fun to do so if you have any other TAG rec's, throw them my way! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

... So this excites me..

It looks so bad-ass. 
Lily Collins looks amazing as Clary... and Jamie Campbell Bower, YES PLEASE. The casting in general looks awesome. Lena Headey as the mum? I am gonna love this. 
Definitely looking forward to it when it comes out.

Also back last year when I heard they were making the film adaptation of City of Bones I got out my unread copy of the book and started reading. I haven't finished it yet but I do like it and will hopefully finish it before the movie is released. 

ANYWAY... back to writing essays.

{Sorry I've been AWOL - I thought a little apology, however pathetic, was well overdue.}