Monday, February 29, 2016

Reading Challenge Wrap Up: February

Another month down! Unfortunately I didn't get as much read as I'd hoped throughout February. Even with the extra day! I'm also still behind on posting reviews, so again, as I get them posted I'll edit this post to include links to them. One of these days though I really will get organised. Really.


TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I really need to focus more on this challenge if I'm to reach my goal. As it stands I keep reading new books instead of all the many ones that have been sitting on my shelves too long.

Books Read:

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Asunder by Jodi Meadows (Review)
Infinite by Jodi Meadows

That Artsy Reader Girl

2016 Debut Author Challenge

I did not reach my goal for this challenge, which is 2 a month. Boo. I'll have to read 3 next month to make up for it!

Books Read:

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (Review)

Diverse Reads Book Challenge
2016 Diverse Reads Book Challenge

I did reach my goal for this though, so yay. I'm hoping to get more than 2 read next month though. Probably I'm already putting too much pressure on myself!

Books Read:

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (Review)
Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach (Review)

A Series A Month

2016 A Series A Month Reading Challenge

I only just completed my goal for this one, so phew. Now to decide what series to read next month!

Books Read:

Asunder by Jodi Meadows (Review)
Infinite by Jodi Meadows

I have big plans for March. Fingers crossed they work out! If you've been taking part in reading challenges, how are you going?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: Asunder by Jodi Meadows

Title: Asunder
Author: Jodi Meadows
Series: Newsoul, Book Two
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: 31 December 2013
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

DARKSOULS
Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

SHADOWS
Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

LOVE
Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Newsoul trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.
(summary from Goodreads)


Continuing where Incarnate left off, Asunder slowly delves further into the mythology of this world.

And I do mean slowly. It took me a while to really get into Asunder and I found it much more frustrating than Incarnate. Possibly it may have helped if I hadn't read the first book over an entire year ago! But then again, I did remember a lot of Incarnate, so maybe it wouldn't have made much difference really. To me, Asunder felt like the story hadn't really moved on from the first book. Ana still lived under the rule of the Council, many residents of Heart still distrusted Newsouls, Janan was still up to whatever it is he was up to and Ana wanted to know the truth but was no closer to discovering it. For much of the first half of the book the plot was really only a rehash of the same things. It did finally pick up though and I was reminded why I enjoyed Incarnate so much. The mythology of this world, the truth about Janan, the sylph, the people of Heart and their reincarnation is still unique and intriguing. Meadows writing style was both hit and miss for me though. At times it seems so simple and stilted that I wanted to skim read to get a move on, and yet then she has a way of providing little hints and building the tension so slowly that you're on the edge of your seat desperate to know more before you realise it. That tension saved Asunder for me. If I wasn't so captivated again by the last half of the book I'm sure my rating would have been much lower. Meadows just had to reach her stride again, I guess. I only hope it doesn't falter at the start of Infinite too.

Throughout Incarnate I remember being frustrated by Ana's naivete and in awe of Heart's residents, but this time around it was the opposite. I am so sick of the people of Heart. Their distrust of Newsouls increases to outright hatred and violence in Asunder, which is one thing, but the superior attitude so many have towards Ana, the treatment of her as a simple child, especially by those who claim to be her friend (I'm looking at you, Stef, urgh!) really irritated me. I realised something while reading Asunder, and I feel so slow - these characters may have lived many lives over 5000 years but they're no wiser for it. They do the same thing, love the same people, never question or try to learn more and holy hell did they get on my last nerve!! I can't help but think it's such a waste and when the truth of their reincarnation is revealed - hello, rage! Unfortunately though, these characters and their attitude also started to bore me. It really wasn't much of a change from Incarnate is all. I wanted something to change, something to shake things up, but it's slow in coming. I'm assuming it'll come in Infinite. And hopefully I will relish it! Compared to them though, Ana seems wise and beyond her years; so strong and determined. I love Ana's heart. She's so forgiving. I should take lessons from her. I still quite like Sam too, though the goodness I enjoyed previously was holding him back here. His relationship with Ana though is still so lovely. Meadows really makes me believe in - and swoon over - their love and loyalty for each other. I'm eager to read Infinite as I want to know how their story ends. Plus Jenan is set to get even creepier and how could I miss that?

Asunder is slow going but it does get there. Meadows ups the ante nicely and in time, and her mythology is still enchanting.

Rating:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Feature & Follow Friday: Ten Reasons You Read Your Favourite Genre

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers and have them meet you. Be sure to pop over and meet this week's featured bloggers! Also, don't forget to pop back over in a couple of days to vote for next week's featured blogger.

Ten Reasons You Read Your Favourite Genre

My fave genre is YA as a whole, really, but for this I'm narrowing it down to Contemporary YA. Here's my 10 reasons why I read contemporary YA!

  • The stories are relatable. They're my here and now and are about things I know.
  • The romance is often more developed than in fantasy, dystopia, etc. It's not so much insta-love, which irks me, and even better, there's rarely a love triangle too.
  • They're full of hard-hitting and thought-provoking issues.
  • I find them emotional. Even if they're not focused on some serious topic, as above, they often make me smile, laugh, cry, feel inspired and so on.
  • They have complex characters. For me, the characters often make the book, and in contemporary YA character development is often the big thing. There's no major world development, for example, that also has to be the focus.
  • They're standalone, more often than not. No waiting for the next book in a series! Yay!
  • Which also means they're short, in a way. The end is in sight. I can read the whole story in one sitting. I enjoy whiling away a few hours reading contemporary YA.
  • The many authors I've come to love. Many of the authors that are Must Buys for me write contemporary YA. Sarah Dessen, David Levithan,  Morgan Matson, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Perkins, to name a few.
  • I grew up reading contemporary. The Babysitter's Club, the Sweet Valley series's. It's what I've always enjoyed reading.
  • Simply, I just love contemporary YA.

There you go. 10 reasons I read my favourite genre. Easy. How about you? What is your favourite genre and why do you read it? Share your posts so I can visit and check out your answers. Thanks for following!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Review: Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

Title: Thanks for the Trouble
Author: Tommy Wallach
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 1 March 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I received this book from Simon & Schuster Australia for review.

“I’ve got some questions for you. Was this story written about me?”

I shrugged.

“Yes or no?”

I shrugged again, finally earning a little scowl, which somehow made the girl even more pretty. It brought a bloom to her pale cheeks and made sharp shelves of her cheekbones.

“It’s very rude not to answer simple questions,” she said.

I gestured for my journal, but she still wouldn’t give it to me. So I took out my pen and wrote I can’t on my palm.

Then, in tiny letters below it, I finished the thought: Now don’t you feel like a jerk?

Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.

From the celebrated author of We All Looked Up comes a unique story of first and last loves.
(summary from Goodreads)


Wallach has done it again. Thanks for the Trouble is brilliant - funny, powerful and honest. 

I quite loved this book and I just want to gush on about it, and yet this is actually a hard review for me to write. Other than that summary above and that it was written by Tommy Wallach, who's debut We All Looked Up I also loved, I knew nothing about Thanks for the Trouble. I just had to read it. And I'm so glad I did. But now, writing this review, I don't want to give anything away. I truly believe you should read Thanks for the Trouble knowing as little about it as possible and just go with it. Wallach has us questioning the impossible and it's up to us as readers to choose what we believe. I know what I believe and I don't want to influence others. So here's what I will say. Thanks for the Trouble is amazing. Like We All Looked Up, Wallach hits us with some way out there idea and then portrays a story that is realistic, gritty and impacting, despite the seemingly unbelievable. Wallach strikes this perfect balance between fun and adventurous, and heartbreaking, life-altering meaningfulness that makes the whole book an emotional and touching journey. You're with Parker, every step of the way. Written as a college admissions essay, the entirety of Thanks for the Trouble reads like Parker is talking directly to the reader. I found it slightly off putting at first, especially as Parker kind of rambles or has a long winded point to make, but the story is too wild not to get caught up in, and quickly enough I was completely hooked. I ended up loving the writing style as it suited the fact that Parker communicated through writing in journals. I also really loved the fairytale-esque stories included throughout the book, that Parker writes. Their evolution and connection to Parker's own story was a really great touch.

I really liked Parker's voice. Reading from his point of view gets across just how much of the world he wasn't seeing, how he'd completely stalled. He's cynical and oblivious all in one. My only real complaint about Parker, and thus Thanks for the Trouble, is his choice in regard to the phone call Zelda is waiting for. For personal reasons that really got under my skin and for a while it affected my reading of the book. It's still something that kind of eats at me, but I was able to mostly let it go. With every new adventure Parker opens himself to the world and those around him that little bit more and it's surprising and genuine. I loved Alanna and the chess club nerds. I liked that they make a mark, just as Zelda does. But what to say about Zelda? She was definitely my favourite thing about Thanks for the Trouble. She's smart, wise, crazy, lively, and sees the world in a way that effects Parker and readers. What truly awes me about Wallach's writing and this book is the way he is able to put into words these huge, deep, meaning of life kind of thoughts; some that I couldn't even imagine but they're right here in this awesome prose and so many times I had to stop and think "Yes. This." and just appreciate it. All of them are wrapped up in Zelda and her story, and reading Thanks for the Trouble is like Parker's weekend with Zelda. It's wild and crazy and sad and inspiring and brilliant and makes you question, think, and reevaluate.

Read Thanks for the Trouble and decide for yourself. Do you believe or not?

Rating:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting on Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

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 am completely in love with...

Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 26 April 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

There's a reason they say "be careful what you wish for." Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for "balls of steel" and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.

These are things Lennie only learns when it's too late-after she brings some of her uncles' moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn't mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles' moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their "important family legacy," she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can't be unmade...
(summary from Goodreads)


I am so in love with the summary of this book! So unique! And I adore the cover too. Definitely cannot wait to read this. 

What book caught your fancy?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Top Ten Books I Enjoyed Recently That Weren't My Typical Genre

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 Enjoyed Recently That Weren't My Typical Genre

Erm, Top Eight, actually. I could not think of just two more! Because honestly, I rarely do read outside of my typical genre. But I think this list is proof that I should do so more often, as I loved a lot of these and a few even made my Top Ten Favourites of 2015!

The Martian
Does My Head Look Big in This?

Quite a few of these I read because they were book club picks, so yay for book club! While Does My Head Look Big in This? and Undertow are both YA, which is my usual genre, each have subject matters I felt I'm inclined to avoid. I'm also an avid reader of M/M romance, but nothing quite like the Captive Prince trilogy. I wish there were more like this I could read, as it's a fantastic series. I very, very rarely read non-fiction so Pale Blue Dot was definitely a feat for me. I read it because my Dad asked me to and quite enjoyed it. Still, my father never remembers I actually did read it and makes digs before I have to remind him again. Dads, right? Next he'll try to quiz me as proof that I finished it.

What books have you enjoyed that are more outside your comfort zone? Have you read any of the above?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands, Book One
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 4 February 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I received this ARC from Faber & Faber for review.

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
(summary from Goodreads)


Rebel of the Sands is a Middle Eastern fantasy with Western vibes, a completely magical and captivating read.

I started Rebel of the Sands and I did not want to put it down. I couldn't believe how quickly I devoured this book. I started it thinking I'd read for a little bit, just a couple of chapters. Next thing I knew, I'm half way through and a couple of hours had passed instead. Hamilton has definitely created a world that is easy to lose yourself in. I loved the setting. She brings the desert to life. You feel the heat, the grit of the sand, the expanse of it all while reading Rebel of the Sands. There is so much to this book that keeps the pace moving and your imagination wholly hooked. There's warring Empires, a power hungry Sultan, oppressive culture, and a Rebellion fighting for change. Then there's a host of fantasy creatures. Djinni, Skinwalkers, horses made of magic and sand, terrifying monsters known as Nightmares, giant bird like creatures, plus half human/half Djinni characters that wield magnificent power. And added to it all is gunslingers, shootouts and even train robbery. I'm squealing on the inside right now. Hamilton has taken an amazing variety of epicness and put it all together to create a brilliant story of family, friendship, survival, romance and a girl finding her place in a world so much bigger than she could've realised. I love, love, love Rebel of the Sands. My only true disappointment is that I have to wait for the rest of the series. Boo! I was so glad Rebel of the Sands didn't end with a major cliffhanger. There's heaps more to come, there's no doubt, but book one feels complete in a way and I don't feel frustrated needing more.

I am so impressed with Amani. In a world where she holds no power simply because she's female, Amani refuses to give in and takes it from behind a gun. She is so cool! Amani is also clever and sassy, tough and reckless, and I'm so eager to read the rest of her journey. I can admit too, one thing I also really loved about Amani is that she doesn't swoon and succumb to a good looking boy, no matter her attraction to him. She gives as good as she gets, if not more and better. I am all for the romance of Rebel of the Sands. It is not the be all end all of the story, just one part of it and it's a part I adored just as I loved the entirety of this book. The slow build and the chemistry between Amani and Jin - yeah, I'm the one swooning instead. Jin is perfect. Tough, funny, and loyal, he sees and accepts Amani for who she truly is. Who knew 'Bandit' could be such a term of endearment? There are so, so many secondary characters I want to gush about too. From the many funny and powerful members of the Rebellion to the many disturbing villains, each are great characters, distinct and leaving quite the mark on the story of Rebel of the Sands. But seriously, if I start I will never end this review. And there are so many surprises wrapped up in these characters, their relationships, and their stories, so just take my word for it...

Read Rebel of the Sands and fall in love for yourself! I have a feeling Alwyn Hamilton will become a Must Buy author for me.

Rating:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Title: Firstlife
Author: Gena Showalter
Series: Everlife, Book One
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 22 February 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I received this ARC from Harlequin Teen Australia for review.

Step one...you die.

ONE CHOICE. TWO REALMS. NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley "Ten" Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live — after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, long-time enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she's drawn to isn't where the boy she's falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…
(summary from Goodreads)


Firstlife is a high action page turner but I just couldn't connect.

I have mixed feelings about Firstlife. Honestly, I didn't really like it, but I could see how I could have and I really, really wanted to. I feel bad that I didn't like it. It's not that it's a bad book, at all, but that simply, it's a case of not being my kind of thing. Firstlife frustrated the ever living daylights out of me. A number of times I wanted to give up and mark it DNF. But I do my very best to never DNF books, especially ARCs. So I made myself keep reading. That was a feat because I wanted to give up on it really early on. By the 30% mark I was pretty sure there was no hope of me liking this book. By the 60% mark I knew it for sure and it was a struggle to get it finished so I could write this review. Here's what I did like about Firstlife. It's certainly an original story and the world Showalter created is interesting and really, kind of cool in a scary way. The concepts of Firstlife and Everlife intrigued me and Showalter's world building of Myriad, Troika, the Many Ends, and the Land of the Harvest were imaginative. Firstlife is well and truly action packed too, which was great at times. It's the Mad Max: Fury Road of books! (I didn't like Mad Max: Fury Road, FYI.) It is one bloody fight and action sequence after another, and while it was heart-racing and page turning at first, it soon becomes commonplace. Action like this doesn't always appeal to me. Not if it's action for action's sake and doesn't prove meaningful or worthwhile. This book is not for the lighthearted, let me tell you. Showalter doesn't hold back on the violence and pain required for truly kickass action. I'm definitely not dead set against violence, but I think Firstlife started delving into the realm of shock factor. Oh look, bloody fight. Oh look, torture. Oh look, bloody fight. Oh look, more torture. Oh look, murder. Oh look, even more bloody fighting. It got to a point that I think genuine development was sacrificed for more gruesome or scary action. Troika and Myriad, especially Myriad, go to extreme lengths to get Ten to 'sign' with them because apparently she's special. But how and why? Is she really, truly? Characters seemed unsure of that. She means something different to each realm, so how is that possible? These sorts of questions and more aren't answered in Firstlife. Maybe they'll come up as the series continues, but there should've at least been glimpses now and there wasn't. Ten is special because Troika and Myriad say so, got it? I wanted more.

And so this is what I didn't like about Firstlife. The story and it's characters didn't develop. Ten is a major factor in my disliking this book. Sure, she keeps getting up and trying to kick butt but I couldn't get a hold on her motivations. She doesn't want to choose Myriad because her parents want her to and have imprisoned her to be relentlessly tortured in hope of forcing her to choose. Okay. But she doesn't want to choose Troika instead because...well. I feel that's the question. Showalter describes Ten as simply wanting time, not to feel pressured, to make the right decision, find where she truly belongs. Which is all well and good but here's the thing. Ten knows her choice. Subconsciously she always had, right from the beginning. By just after half way through, she actually had made her choice but she refused to act on it. And so all the shit that goes down? All the whining about not choosing? Felt pointless to me. I could not care because I didn't understand the why. Showalter created this story around Ten not choosing and to me it felt very tenuous. So I couldn't connect. The other reason I couldn't connect is the romance. This is the thing that really made me want to DNF Firstlife. And maybe I'm being harsh because I'm so over this kind of romance. Ten kept trying to act tough and untrusting, unwilling to give herself over to love, yet she instantly falls for Killian. Just, urgh. All the wishy-washyness over Killian irritated me to tears. Every time she succumbed to him I felt myself disliking Ten and this book more. It made me want to toss Firstlife, literally, from very early on. But I couldn't because a) I was reading it in a hospital waiting room, b) on my precious iPad, a c) as stated, I try not to DNF ARCs. But this is where it's more "it's me, not you". I couldn't like Killian. Brooding bad boys are one thing, but psycho boys? No. Showalter tried to prove Killian had a heart of gold but that doesn't work for me. Having reasons for being psycho does not change the fact that you're psycho! I was not feeling the 'love' between Ten and Killian, no Siree. What redeems Firstlife, slightly, is that is has no love triangle. Yay! It seems it might go there, but I'm thankful it didn't. That would have definitely been the last nail in the coffin. Now Archer is a character I did like. He was funny and honest and I really liked his friendship with Ten. That I could believe in. I was also intrigued by Archer's relationship with Killian, but this again went underdeveloped, unfortunately. It didn't center around Ten, you see. There are a lot of secondary characters that add to Firstlife and mostly they fall into two categories - selfish and could have an intriguing story, or selfish and purely evil. All of them don't develop into much either. Firstlife is definitely Ten's story. And as I'm not a fan of Ten, well.

Firstlife just wasn't for me. There are some pretty awesome elements and it will definitely appeal to many readers. But for me, it succumbed to romance tropes and shock value. I wanted more depth of story and character.

Rating:


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (85)

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

Bought:

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard


Hello? by Liza Wiemer (eBook)

Borrowed:

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver
After the End by Amy Plum
Tangled Webs by Lee Bros
Hellhole by Gina Damico
A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes

I really should not have visited the library this week. I should have just returned my books and left, but alas. It still counts if I'm cutting down my TBR list if not my actual physical TBR pile, right? Right?

What goodies are new to your shelves this week? Share your post and I'll pop over for a looksee! 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Feature & Follow Friday: Why I Started Blogging

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Rachel over at Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. This is a chance to get to know fellow book bloggers and have them meet you. Be sure to pop over and meet this week's featured bloggers! Well, there's none this week, but vote for next weeks features!

Why Did You Start Blogging?

Purely out of interest and something to do! I love reading and I started browsing book related sites and blogs to learn about new titles and figured reviewing the books I read was something I could do too. I don't work, because of my disability, and reading and blogging keeps me busy. It's something I love, that I have fun with, but also feels worthwhile, you know?

Why did you start blogging? Please share your post so that I can visit and follow you!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, Book Three
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 21 October 2014
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.
(summary from Goodreads)


Stiefvater ups the ante in this magnificent series and there is definitely no stopping the love now!

I just want all the magic and wonder of The Raven Cycle to be real! Seriously, what I would do to visit Cabeswater! But hey, probably not what some in these books have done. The price to pay to find Glendower keeps getting higher and I was already terrified after The Dream Thieves - now I can't even guess at how I'm going to feel after The Raven King. I can't describe just how badly I want to read the end of this series and yet how I never want it to end because that possible end has me all torn up. The Dream Thieves is still my favourite so far, but Blue Lily, Lily Blue is an epic continuation of this awesome series, teasing some new tidbits and solidifying some old. The writing and tone is just as gorgeous and emotional as we've come to expect while the intrigue and tension sparks to a whole new level. Stiefvater has this balance in Blue Lily, Lily Blue that kind of blows me away. Everything is so high stakes, the intensity as cutting as ever, and yet there's also an element of 'life as usual'. I would think that should slow things right down, maybe even frustrate me some, but I like it. I think it's because it enhances the fantasy elements. Those things aren't normal and should standout against the commonplace. And the everyday should have meaning alongside the magical. It makes everything throughout Blue Lily, Lily Blue count, no matter how small.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue once again alternates between Gansey, Blue and Adam's points of view, as well as our new villain, Greenmantle. I really, really like how Stiefvater does this and with certain revelations by the end of this book, The Raven King is set up to have an incredibly interesting point of view narration. I can't wait. Greenmantle, Mr Gray's ex-employer, was suitably creepy. He wasn't at all what I was expecting from The Dream Thieves. There's a humorous and sexualised tone to Greenmantle's villainy that I found truly disturbing. But twists abound in Blue Lily, Lily Blue! Stiefvater is really running the gamut on very different villainous personalities. Stiefvater also introduced us to some new characters that are surely going to be big players in the final book, and for that reason I'm keeping Mum about them. Seriously, if you haven't yet, read this series. Or wait until April, because I guarantee you'll want to read The Raven King right away too. Blue Lily, Lily Blue introduced us to Malory in the flesh, and I liked that. He's a funny fellow, and the insight he provided into Gansey is something I've been waiting for. Actually, I got what I'd been waiting for in regard to both Gansey and Blue. I feel much more connected to them as characters after Blue Lily, Lily Blue. There's more vulnerability displayed, by both of them, and I'm a squealing, flailing pre-teen over their burgeoning romance. I love, love, love it and I want more and I am so, so, so afraid of The Raven King. Miracle of miracles, this book finally has me loving Adam too...well, getting there. His having to face his father finally had him on his way to seeing the light and the moment it happened I'm pretty sure I shouted "Hallelujah!" Really, it is about freaking time. Do not let me down, Adam! Plus, I'm shipping Adam/Ronan in a major, major way. I look back at the previous books and I wonder how I didn't see it! Every moment between the two of them also had me reacting in a hyperactive manner. It's great. Unfortunately no Ronan point of view this time around and I missed him. He's definitely my favourite character, everything about him captivates me. There was also little of Noah again, but again, it's not exactly a bad thing. Noah is so connected to everything I can't help but still worry about the purpose of him being so there but not there. Oh, Ms Stiefvater. What are you doing to do in The Raven King?

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is everything I've come to love about this series. It's certainly rocketed up to one of my favourite series of all time.

Rating:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Waiting on Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany

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'm overcome with joy wanting...

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany

Publisher: Little Brown
Publication Date: 31 July 2016
Pre-Order: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.
(summary from Goodreads)


It's pretty much old news again, but I was squealing over the announcement the play will be published! My social media exploded in happiness over this, but then a little later, exploded again in disappointment that it's not a novel. I thought it was pretty clear it was the script being published and I am still so, so happy they're doing so. It's still a new Harry Potter story and I can't go to London to see the play (sobs!) and who knows when it'd come to Australia, if ever? So to be able to read it is awesome. Now to just wait til July!

Are you excited to read Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, even in play format? Are you a super lucky fan actually seeing the play? What book has you excited for its release this week?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Top Ten If These Songs Were Books, I'd Read Them

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:

Books & Songs!
If These Songs Were Books, I'd Read Them
Click the pics to hear the song!

All Too Well
Chandelier

I adore music, but man, was this a hard topic. I tried to give books theme songs, but I'm just not that imaginative. So I went with this!

Is there a song you wish were a book? Share your Top Ten post with me so I can check it out!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Title: Does My Head Look Big in This?
Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah
Publisher: Pan Australia
Publication Date: 1 August 2005
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

The slide opened and I heard a gentle, kind voice: What is your confession, my child?
I was stuffed. The Priest would declare me a heretic; my parents would call me a traitor...
The Priest asked me again: What is your confession, my child?
I'm Muslim. I whispered.

Welcome to my world. I'm Amal Abdel-Hakim, a seventeen year-old Australian-Palestinian-Muslim still trying to come to grips with my various identity hyphens.

It's hard enough being cool as a teenager when being one issue behind the latest Cosmo is enough to disqualify you from the in-group. Try wearing a veil on your head and practicing the bum's up position at lunchtime and you know you're in for a tough time at school.

Luckily my friends support me, although they've got a few troubles of their own. Simone, blonde, gorgeous and overweight – she's got serious image issues, and Leila's really intelligent but her parents are more interested in her getting a marriage certificate than her high school certificate!

And I thought I had problems...
(summary from Goodreads)


Does My Head Look Big in This? is a funny and thoughtful read.

This is one of those books I want to buy multiple copies of and give to everyone I know in the hopes they read it. I can't believe I've only just read it now. Abdel-Fattah tackles a lot of huge issues - religion, racism, stereotypes, self-esteem, bullying, friendship, family, terrorism - and she does so with humour and grace. These are seriously hot button topics, relevant even more so today, and Abdel-Fattah is able to illustrate them in a light yet serious way. Overall Does My Head Look Big in This? may be a fun read, but it's not fluff. It's truly thought-provoking, emotional and powerful. Amal's story is one any reader can relate to on some level, be touched by, and hopefully even changed by. Her outlook on life and religion, her faith, her courage, is something to aspire to. I'm not a religious person but I have beliefs and faith and I liked the portrayal of Amal's faith the most. She is not defined by religion, she defines it for herself. Many of the characters do, choosing how they honour their faith, and it's beautiful. I loved how Abdel-Farrah defines and obliterates stereotypes, allowing us to question our own. This is a lesson we constantly need to learn and Does My Head Look Big in This? is a must read for that. It's forthright and honest. Abdel-Farrah's writing style took a little getting used to and may not be to every reader's liking. It reads as Amal's internalised monologue, like she's talking directly to us, somewhat jumpy and fast paced and at times I found it a little too much. But the story itself hugely outweighs that struggle, so by the end I was barely noticing.

Amal is a truly inspiring character. Does My Head Look Big in This? isn't just a story about a Muslim Australian girl. It's a story about a teenage girl growing up, learning her place in the world, and choosing her own path. Amal is sarcastic, smart and larger than life. Her personality leaps off the page. I really felt for her every struggle and every triumph. Her relationships with her friends and family really shine. Her friends are all so different, with their own issues and stories, and the way they are all there for each other is wonderful. Their stories affect Amal's and vice versa. I like that - that even though Amal is our main character and narrator, the obstacles the secondary characters face have just as much influence. So much of what Leila, Yasmeen, Simone, Eileen and Adam experience made this book. And Mrs Vaselli. I loved her and her story. Does My Head Look Big in This? is as much about the people in Amal's life as it is Amal. Amal's parents are very present too and their firmness, support and acceptance brought something so affirming to this novel. And I must say - no romance! Sure, Amal has a bit of a crush on Adam but her belief is no 'hanky panky' before marriage and it was great to read. The friendship between her and Adam, the ups and downs of that, is every bit as awesome as any swoon-worthy romance.

Abdel-Fattah has written a hilarious, touching, thought-provoking, inspiring and just plain wonderful, must read!

Rating:

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (84)

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

A quiet week this one, thank goodness, as I have way too much catching up to do! We'll see if that stops me in upcoming weeks though. I'm terrible at not buying books.

Bought:

Cute & Cuddly Colouring Book


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (eBook)

Review:

Firstlife by Gena Showalter - with many, many thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia!

I borrowed The Graveyard Book from a library many years ago and enjoyed it immensely. It's a book club pick this month, so time for a reread! I'm looking forward to it. And I can't wait to read Firstlife, of course.

What have you added to your shelves?