Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: January

Well, we're one month down, practically, and I'm happy with my progress for all of the reading challenges I've signed up for! It's been a push but I've read the books I aimed to, so yay! Only, I'm very behind on posting reviews for said books, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll get them churned out too. So in the meantime, to mark my progress, this is a Reading Challenge Wrap Up! I'll endeavour to post a wrap up at the end of each month, so even if I don't get every review written within the same month, I'll be sharing how I'm doing.

TBR Reading Challenge

I have some crossover here, as you'll see. Is that cheating? I'm not too sure exactly how it works in that regard, but hopefully this is okay.

Books Read:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Review)
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Review)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (Review)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Review)

That Artsy Reader Girl

2016 Debut Authors Challenge

My goal is to read 2 books a month for this challenge and that I did!

Books Read:

Yellow by Megan Jacobson (Review)
The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt (Review)

Diverse Reads Book Challenge
2016 Diverse Reads Book Challenge

I'm aiming to read 2 books a month for this challenge too, and again, I'm on track.

Books Read:

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (Review)
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Review)

A Series a Month

2016 A Series a Month Reading Challenge

I only just finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue a couple of hours ago, thus meeting my deadline! My goal is one series a month, and January was Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle. I tell you, I kind of wish I'd held off on this one until April so I didn't have to wait for The Raven King! Argh!

Books Read:

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (Review)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (Review)
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Review)

So that's it, my January Wrap Up for the reading challenges I'm tackling this year. So far, so good. Now to keep it up...and get my reviews posted within the same month! Here's to February!

Are you signed up for an reading challenges? Are you participating in any of the above? How are you going so far?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (82)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Share all of the bookish goodies you got during the week!

Nowhere near as many books as last week, that's for sure! But I'm no less excited for these!


The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

I've been reading a lot this week and have already finished The Distance from A to Z. It was cute. Review will be up next week, most likely. I'm really looking forward to Rebel of the Sands and The Girl from Everywhere. I wish I had a time turner so I could get even more reading done!

What new books are you excited about having on your shelves?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey - Book & Movie Review

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave, Book One
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 7 May 2013
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains.
After the 2nd, only the lucky escape.
And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive.
After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
(summary from Goodreads)

The 5th Wave suffers from an unlikeable main character and insta-love at the wrong time.

The truth is, this book would have been marked DNF if it hadn't have been a book club pick that I had to read. I got about half way through before tossing it aside for 3 weeks and then forcing myself to finish it. I really couldn't get past how much I disliked Cassie and her attitude. It was one long exercise in whining and cruelty. Where I should've been feeling for her situation, for the hardships and losses she'd faced, I was instead just annoyed and bored. And that was before she was injured and seemingly saved by Evan Walker. This is what truly lost me. The world is effectively ending, your little brother has been kidnapped by freaking aliens, but hey, just go ahead and spend weeks either making out with Evan or despairing over whether you can actually trust him, Cassie. Urgh. You can't see me, but I'm throwing my hands up in disgust. And yes, Cassie is healing, but come on. I would've much rather read about her pushing herself to get better - that kind of desperation is what I expected from The 5th Wave

After almost the first half of the book from Cassie's point of view, the rest alternates between her and Ben, with a little Evan and Sammy thrown in here and there. I didn't much care for Ben any more that I did Cassie, but I appreciated the shift away from the romance drama. Ben's narration at least gives us an insider's point of view to the whole aliens taking over the world thing. The army, their supposed plans, and the battles that follow were the best thing about The 5th Wave. This book should have been a lot more of this! Yancey's created a world that is life and death, high action and intensity - at times. If the focus of the story had have been this, I would have liked the book more. Evan's narration had potential to be so much more too, considering a certain revelation, but nope. The only character I can say with conviction that I liked, was Sammy. I don't think that's saying much though. I was intrigued by Ringer too, it seems she'd have quite the story, and I hear she has point of view chapters in Infinite Sea, which might be interesting. I was also intrigued by the many references to the voice in Cassie's head...I wonder, I wonder. But truthfully? Nothing is interesting enough to make me continue reading this series.


Title: The 5th Wave
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello, Ron Livingston, Maggie Siff, Zachary Arthur, Maika Monroe
Director: J Blakeson
Writers: Rick Yancey (author), Susannah Grant (screenplay), Akiva Goldsman (screenplay) & Jeff Pinkner (screenplay)
Released: 14 January 2016
Website: The 5th Wave Movie

Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother. (summary from IMDb)

You're probably wondering why I would see the movie when I hated the book. Blame my mother. She really wanted to see it and had no one else to go with. Plus, I did wonder if there was a chance I'd like The 5th Wave movie without being in Cassie's head, as it were. The answer is yes, at least in that regard. I liked movie-Cassie better. A lot of her exposition is obviously cut, and so the attitude that so detached me from the book is practically nonexistent. The romance drama is cut a bit too, yay! It's still practically insta-love, but rather than making out, she limps off to save Sammy. Double yay! Not that there isn't some making out, Evan fans. Don't fret. The movie stayed mostly true to the book. There weren't any severe, plot altering changes, at least. There is a lot cut, I guess, to keep it from being too long. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, having it drawn out probably wouldn't have worked, but as it is, it felt too rushed. It lacked plausibility and didn't feel genuine. The build up was missing. The biggest change is that the movie makers decided to hold off on the reveal of who the Others are. I guess to up the tension? It could have worked, if the reveal when it came was more climactic, but it's pretty meh. The world isn't really expanded on even in the movie, more's the pity. I found Ringer to be a lot less intriguing too, boo. The acting wasn't particularly notable either. Moretz does a lot of panting and widening her eyes to look stunned; Roe looks nice, to be sure; and Robinson lives up to Ben's moniker, Zombie. Schreiber is pretty great, in that he's what he always is. I think he could be worth watching future movies, depending I suppose on what happens with his character, Vosch. I was all for the gender swap of Reznik and was really looking forward to Bello playing the part. But unfortunately movie-Reznik is not book-Reznik - instead she's Dr. Pam from the book, pretty much, and it was incredibly disappointing.

If you're a fan of the book, I'm sure you'll enjoy the movie. If like me you're not a fan of the book, don't rush to see The 5th Wave. And if you haven't read the book? Well, I'm still a firm supporter of reading the book, but I'd say you're probably likely to enjoy it too. It's not fantastic. It's a see it once and be done with it kind of movie. That's how my mother, who hasn't read the book, felt about it, if you're interested.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 04 February 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I received this book from Puffin for review.

It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Fans of The Book Thief or Helen Dunmore's The Siege will be totally absorbed.

This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Ruta Sepetys, acclaimed author of Between Shades of Grey, brilliantly imagines their story.
(summary from Goodreads)

Salt to the Sea is a stark portrayal of the desperation of war.

Having never read any of Sepetys's books I wasn't too sure what exactly to expect of Salt to the Sea, though from rave reviews of her earlier works I figured it might be something great and that was certainly right. Sepetys's storytelling is striking and poignant, illustrating the horror and tragedy of war without being overtly graphic or violent. Salt to the Sea is by no means action packed but alternating between four point of views it's very fast paced and makes for a quick read. I read it in one sitting, easy. Each chapter is quite short and switching from one character's point of view to another as it does keeps the narrative very succinct. I think this helps set the tone of the overall story; it's stark and haunting. A certain intensity can be expected from any story portraying the brutality and fear of war, and Sepetys has it in heart-wrenching spades. We're thrown right into the thick of it and as we're getting our bearings a constant thread of worry forms and never quite dissipates. This meant I was enthralled from start to finish. I was disappointed slightly with the ending, however. We go from point A to B with no explanation, and so I didn't get the closure I would have liked, especially in terms of Johana and Florian's families. Apparently Salt to the Sea is a sort of companion to Between Shades of Grey though, so if I had read Sepetys's earlier works I maybe wouldn't have felt this way. That last chapter though. Wow. What a way to end the book. It was unexpected, and while I'd held up fairly well throughout Salt to the Sea, that last sentence wrecked me. I just broke down crying, and it was both happy and sad.

I think it's hard not to be affected by Sepetys's characters. We're getting to know them in the worst of times, at their most desperate. There's an honesty that is touching. Each has a different background, has experienced and been affected by the war in a different way and has their own secrets. Despite this they find their way to each other and it is beautiful. At least, it is in terms of Johana, Florian, Emilia and their fellow refugees, Poet, Klaus, Eva and Ingrid. Johana, Florian and Emilia are three of the four narrators and their strength and determination is inspiring; their pain terrible. The bonds they form are what drive Salt to the Sea. It's hopeful and heartbreaking all at once. I especially loved Poet and Klaus. Their spirit is uplifting. The fourth narrator is Alfred, a low ranking officer in the Nazi regime with delusions of grandeur. His point of view chapters are not so inspiring, but no less impacting. Alfred is, in a word, creepy. His narration oozes slime but at the same time, it offered a different perspective of what this war meant to and did to people. I appreciate Sepetys's intent. It's easy, reading Salt to the Sea, to believe, to know, that these things were likely to have happened for real, to actual people just like Sepetys's characters. What happened to the Wilhelm Gustloff is true for example, something I was never aware of. This thought is never far from my mind when reading historical fiction like this and it always means the emotion of the story hits me that much harder. Especially considering things like this are occurring even today.

Everyone needs to read Salt to the Sea. We need to be affected by stories like this.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It spotlights soon to be released books that can't come quick enough!

I'd very much like to read...

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 3 May 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

A big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that she used to be Andrew.

Will the truth cost Amanda her new life--and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different--and a love story that everyone will root for.
(summary from Goodreads)

Big yes to this one! So looking forward to reading it. And it's perfect for both the Debut Author Challenge and Diverse Reads Challenge, so yay! 

What book snagged your attention this week?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Books I Want Represented by Tattoos

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they have a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list! This week's topic is:

Top Ten Books I Want Represented by Tattoos

  • Harry Potter - The Deathly Hallows symbol and the deer with 'Always'. Even more so now that Alan Rickman has passed.
  • The Day After Forever - I always think of the jetty or the poetry from this book. And stars.
  • Just Listen - The first Sarah Dessen book I read. Maybe musical notes?
  • Nicholas Sparks - Not exactly a book! I adore his books, but thinking of a tattoo to represent them is hard. I don't really have a particular favourite. If I did I could go from there. A bottle for A Message in a Bottle? Birds or a notebook for The Notebook? A candle for Bend in the Road? The list could go on.
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone - A feather or wishbone, I think.

  • Magonia -  I love the birds flying out of the feather on the cover.
  • Shiver - My introduction to Maggie Stiefvater! Maybe the heart shaped leaves?
  • The Night Circus - I could become the tattooed lady of the circus with the amount of images that could represent this book.
  • Lord of the Rings - I'd probably go for Arwen's Evenstar. Or Legolas. No, not really. I think. Besides, that would be more movie based anyways!
  • The Agency - I quite like the symbol on the spine. It has the A, a question mark, and the silhouette of Mary.

Of course, there's also quotes from any of the above that work as lovely tattoos. The reason I chose this as my freebie topic this week is because I'm actually getting a bookish tattoo in a couple of weeks, and a few above will be represented. I couldn't resist!

What books would you consider getting a tattoo from?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, Book One
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 18 September 2012
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.
(summary from Goodreads)

The Raven Boys is a quietly striking novel, magical and riveting.

I've been meaning to read this book for years now but just kept putting it off. Not because I wasn't interested, because I definitely was. I've heard nothing but amazing things. Plus, Stiefvater is one of my favourite authors. Her style of writing completely awes me and I knew The Raven Boys wouldn't be any different. No, I put it off because I knew I wouldn't be able to handle the wait between books. I figured it'd be excruciating and I know I was right. I'm already eager to read the rest of the series now but there's still going to be a few months to wait for the release of the final book, The Raven King. Possibly I should've put off reading this for a little longer! Oh, well.

Suffice to say, after all that, I really liked The Raven Boys. It wasn't all out love, but it came close. The thing is, at the time of writing this review I've also gone on to read The Dream Thieves, and now my feelings about this series is an all encompassing adoration, but I'm trying to reign that in to review The Raven Boys on it's own! It was easy to fall into The Raven Boys and not want to put it down. Stiefvater's writing just has that way about it. It's beautifully poetic and spellbinding. Based on Welsh folklore, her story is infused with a magic that is captivating. The narrative of The Raven Boys is a little slower. We're introduced to a multitude of characters early, thrown into Blue's hectic psychic world and the idea of Glendower, but the build up at times felt a little stilted. It was interesting, and the writing lovely and easy, but for a while there I felt separated from it still. There's many adventures that pull the pieces together a bit at a time. What I enjoyed is that here and there the thrill of the mystery, of the danger, would spark, and before I knew it I was on the edge of my seat, completely hooked. The Raven Boys is told through the point of views of Blue, Gansey, Adam and Barrington Whelk, and I appreciated the switches because it helped to increase the tension, especially those of Whelk's. I'm totally in love with Cabeswater and want more and more. This, this stole my heart; it's visions, and changing colour fish, and talking trees, and playing with time. It completely captured my imagination and left me wonderstruck.

The brilliance of Stiefvater isn't just in her enchanting prose but in her creating complex characters. With five main characters and a slew of secondary characters she had her work cut out for her, but she nails it. It took me longer to warm up to Blue than others. There's just something disconnected about her. I'm not sure it's not purposeful though. She's apparently ordinary in this wider astonishing world and has been told she'll kill her true love so many times that it's like it's not meaningful to her anymore, even though it plays on her mind. She thinks about it a lot but it feels rote. I love Blue's spunk though and I'm definitely looking forward to her journey from here. Gansey is also slightly disconnected, but again I wonder if he's meant to be. There's a lot of references to the different Gansey's, so getting to know the real one is sure to take time. I adore his earnestness and his utter love and support of those close to him. I definitely get the young and old at once descriptions, because there's an innocence to Gansey that delights, but he's also wise. Personally, I got very frustrated with Blue and Adam's judging Gansey for his rich boy status. The hypocrisy of not wanting to be judged for being poor but then constantly judging Gansey for a financial status out of his control really got on my nerves. I think that pushed me to love Gansey more. I found myself just wanting to wrap my arms around him and pet his hair while I glared at everyone until they backed off! Yeah, I know. I am not a fan of Adam, as it stands. I feel for his situation, it is terrible and unfair and he absolutely deserves better. But better doesn't mean money and prestige, and while ambition is admirable, paired with resentment and bitterness it's hateful. So I dislike and distrust Adam. I'm afraid of where Adam's pride and ambition will take him as the series continues. I also admit to not liking him as a love interest for Blue. That is no way a flaw of The Raven Boys though, but just my own personal hang up. Love triangles, guh. Blue and Gansey is so obvious that I simply don't have the patience for anything else. Speaking of unfair judgement, yes? While Ronan and Noah don't get point of view chapters here, they are no less impacting. I don't see how they could be with how Stiefvater portrays them. They're so solid. Ronan's rage blazes and Noah, despite his shyness, mysteriousness and fading into the background act, is just so attention grabbing! There's so much to these two and I'm desperate to learn more. There's still Whelk, Blue's extended family, Gansey, Adam and Ronan's families that are major players in this series but I could be here forever writing about everyone and everything! The proof of Stiefvater's talent is that each and every one of them, even the most secondary characters, are distinct and stand out. That realness, the genuity of her characters, blows me away. 

The Raven Boys is a rollercoaster - it's slow and fast, has it's ups and downs, it's twists and turns, and I just spread my arms and enjoyed the journey. Be overcome!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (81)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Share all of the bookish goodies you got during the week!

I think I've filled a couple of shelves this week! Phew! Lifeline Bookfest was on, where loads and loads of second hand books are for sale and the money goes to a good cause. I found quite a few after spending 6 hours browsing!! I also visited the library for the first time in a long while, which did not help my TBR pile, at all. I'll never learn!


Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott
The Secret Garden/Peter Pan/The Treasure Seekers
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott
Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattaj
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattaj
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchatta
First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
The Little Prince by Antoine Saint de-Exupery
The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Esio Trot by Roald Dahl
Forever by Judy Blume
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-3 by Lemony Snicket
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
Chronicles of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Windy Willows by L.M. Montgomery

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Changers by T. Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper
It's a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt


Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi
Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Jackaby by William Ritter
An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks


In Place of Never by Jennifer Anne Lindsey

That is a lot of books, yes? What's the bookish equivalent of my eyes are too big for my belly?!?! A lot of the second hand books are going to be rereads of classics I enjoyed as a kid, so there's no rush to get to them. I have to make sure I read the library books asap though so I don't incur late fees! As for the Shannara Chronicles, I borrowed them from my cousin and I doubt he'll be timing me...though you never know! I just started watching the new television show based on The Elfstones of Shannara and so far I'm enjoying it, so I figured it's only right I read the books. I have big reading plans for the next week, though not many from these new additions. I'll see how I go. Cross your fingers for me!

What new books have you made space for on your shelves?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead

Title: Soundless
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 10 November 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore.

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever...
(summary from Goodreads)

Soundless is a slow building mythological story full of wonder.

I really like stories based on folklore. Usually they have a beauty to them that appeals to me. Soundless is one such book. When I say it's slow building, I truly mean it. This book is not in any way fast paced, it just plods along, telling its tale. That's not to say there aren't some heart-racing moments though. There's still a layer of tension that Mead illustrates nicely during moments of danger. What I loved is that Mead captures beauty, art and awe so perfectly with her words. She details a way of seeing the world that is amazing. I adored the language of Soundless. Not simply Mead's prose, but Fei's people's way of communicating, of how Fei learns about sound, and the similarities and differences between the village sign languages. It's truly fascinating. All of Mead's world building is quite enthralling. The village at the top of the mountain, the loss of hearing and now sight, the terrible isolation, the culture and hierarchy of the village, the unknown tyrannical kingdom - I admit all of it made me a little giddy. It's the kind of thing that delights my imagination. My biggest disappointment is I felt Soundless ended too abruptly. The climactic ending felt too little and too quick. It was awesome, but it needed to be fleshed out. All of the world building Mead did earlier was missing at the end. This is what I'd been waiting for, give me more! Plus as a standalone novel there were a number of storylines left unfinished, most especially that of the King and his intentions. I feel let down by that ending.

From word one Fei had me hooked. I connected with the emotion of her story. Her desperation to do the right thing, out of fear of losing her family's standing, but her need to help her sister no matter what, weighs heavy. She shows amazing strength throughout the novel. Fei's relationships are the heart of Soundless. Her love for her sister is inspiring. It's heartbreaking the pain she feels when she thinks she can't save her sister, but she's willing to risk everything to try. Fei's romance with Li suited the story. They have a connection that sparks, yet it's slow and meandering like the narrative. Fei struggles between what she wants and what's the way of the village and this acts as a more personal and emotional parallel to Fei and Li's journey to save their village. It was so frustrating, the villagers unwillingness to change even when it was so obviously and desperately necessary. I wanted to scream a few times! I would have loved to read more of Chen and her father. Chen is sassy and I always like the sassy ones. It felt like there was more to their story, just as there should have been to the book, and so unfortunately that dissatisfied unfinished feeling just won't abait. 

Soundless is an imaginative read; lovely, majestic and subtle, though lacking the perfect ending it deserved. 


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: Yellow by Megan Jacobson

Title: Yellow
Author: Megan Jacobson
Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia
Publication Date: 1 February 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I received this ARC at the Penguin Teen Australia Live event in Brisbane.

Yellow is a YA murder mystery with a slight supernatural edge, but at heart it's about the redemptive power of kindness. Publishing in February 2016, it’s a beautifully written coming-of-age story about family, first love, finding your place and uncovering the secrets of the past.

If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn't bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She'll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn't haunt her. Things aren't so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.
(summary from Goodreads)

A gripping Australian YA contemporary with a supernatural twist.

Yellow is not at all what I was expecting because it's a little unlike anything I've read before. There's a rawness to Jacobson's narrative that is surprising. For me, it was at once kind of odd and brilliant. I was a little put off at how Yellow started. The mean girl routine and "from the wrong side of the tracks" spiel felt cliche and insincere. That wasn't quite what I felt like reading, but soon enough Yellow hit its stride and I didn't want to put it down. It starts with Mitzy and Boogie, which is shocking and provides the story a darker, more intense tone. From then on, Kirra's emotional journey and the mystery of Boogie are all encompassing and hard-hitting. The only major downside is that after a certain incident I started getting an inkling of Boogie's true intentions and from then on it was easy to piece together the clues. It still doesn't diminish the worry about what was going to happen though. Kirra's feelings make Yellow. Jacobson describes them with such gut-wrenching detail and imagery, it's hard not to feel them right along with Kirra. Despite the time period and Australian culture, Yellow delves into universal themes of bullying, alcoholism, high school, small towns, friendship - there's something every reader can relate to. Yellow is very, very Australian. It's a great thing, as there's no denying we need more awesome Aussie YA, but I can't help but feel it needs the warning. The slang, the culture, it can be jarring - and that's coming from an Aussie. Though I admit to being quite the un-Australian Aussie. Jacobson's reference to Ned Kelly and Waltzing Matilda really won me over - just, a huge yes to that. She took the thoughts right out of my own head! 

Kirra's story of desperately wanting something different but nothing to change, of wanting to fit in, is one we all know well. Many times reading Yellow I'd think of what I was like at her age. It was great experiencing the frustration and joy of Kirra's growth, of her realising that her happiness and best relationships were right there all along. I like Noah for the fact that he always saw Kirra. Kirra's relationship with her mother defines Yellow. The capacity to accept, to show kindness, to forgive, is a beautiful and touching message. Boogie's part was a terrible and impacting contrast. I liked the parallel's Jacobson portrayed, the message she illustrated through these. It's heartbreaking how the whole world can seem over at such a young age. Then there's Willow; witty, strong, full of enough rage to fight, always, and yet full of heart and goodness too. I loved Willow. She just kept me grinning and cheering. It's awesome how having just that one person can be everything, and that resonates throughout Yellow.

Megan Jacobson's debut is an emotional coming of age story with a sharp edge.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waiting on A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It spotlights soon to be released books that can't come quick enough!

This week I'm squealing over...

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
Publication Date: 5 May 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | The Book Depository

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court--but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms--and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future--and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.
(summary from Goodreads)

The cover for this was revealed recently, so I had to share it today. I loved the first book in the series and am eagerly and not-so-patiently awaiting this one. I want more Lucien! Sarah J. Maas herself told me I can marry him, so he's mine, yay! And okay, I want to read where Feyre journey's next. 

What book has you excited for its release?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to my TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they have a specific topic for a top ten list. Link up, visit some new blogs and add to your ever growing TBR list! This week's topic is:

Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to my TBR

When We Collided
Anne of Green Gables

These are some new books I bought or received for review, as well as some classics I found second hand at the Lifeline Bookfest and am looking forward to re-reading sometime soon.

What books have you recently added to your TBR that you can't wait to read?