Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin...

Title- The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #3)
Author- Michelle Hodkin.
Publish date- November 2014.
Publisher- Simon and Schuster.
RRP- $16.99.

*Okay, it contains spoilers for the other two books. Let that be said*
My review of books 1 and 2!

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Mara Dyer has to face it all, now, and don't for a moment think that "all" doesn't include herself. Mara, the girl with the powers and anger, is out for revenge. She is hurt and she is angry and she won't let anyone off easily.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for this review copy!
Image Credit: Simon and Schuster.

What I thought:
I opened The Retribution, the final book in the Mara Dyer trilogy, a book I have been anxious for for over a year, and I was in. That's how easy it is and has always been for me with these books. But then something strange happened. The level of creepy went up from general Mara Dyer to atrually making me physically uncomfortable/disgusted, and the story wasn't actually all that fantastic. This could have something to do with the lack of Noah, since I'm pretty sure he and Mara make the books for me, so without him it wasn't nearly so enjoyable or wonderful, and I also realised that, after reading a little over 50 pages on the first day and having a night terror, I would have to get through it right quick. What proceeded on day two is, I believe, something I've never done before. 420 pages in a single day. I did finish it, though, and luckily only had the one bad dream, but... well,  I dondered if I'd get through it at all. The violence was stepped up 5 levels from what I remembered, and it wasn't something that I enjoyed at all, was happy reading or anything. I felt like it was wildly different from what I'd taken to in the first two books. 
I liked Mara Less. I understood her less. I followed the story to the darkness and the corners of her with less joy and enthusiasm. She channged in more ways than the characters themselves realised, and my gosh, there was a lot of killing (mostly brutal) for a YA book.

I can read the book very quickly, the same was with the other two, I think, but I never really liked where the story was going, even if at times I enjoyed it (way to make sense, Romi), but the end was good. The end made it partly worthwhile, and although I am skeptical at the ease with which things were tidied up and other things panned out (the whole book was an unexpected and slightly bizarre twist), and I didn't think it sat all that securely, I quite liked the last little bit, for what it was worth.

Rating: Whatever comes between Poor and Oh nooo...
Scary and surprising and, literally, nightmarish, the essence of Mara Dyer was lost to me until the very end, where it came back in an odd, confusing rush. Truly Mara and Noah make the book. One without the other is just not the same.

Monday, March 2, 2015


It had been more than a year, I believe, since I last hosted a competition, and March for me is the month of celebrations, so lets have a giveaway, shall we?

To celebrate my birthday, I'm going to be giving away a box of books (inspired by this giveaway on Diva Booknerd)! I'm not sure, at present, how many books there are going to be. So it's going to be a surprise (for all of us)- a box of at least 7 books that are doubles, an ARC and some review copies. All are in good contition, though I did make the mistake of trying to remove a sticker from the back of one with teatree oil... not a good move, everyone. DO NOT DO THAT. It has... less colour than it did. BUT IT'S STILL PRETTY.

So, before we get to the true details of how to win this prize, shall we diverge? Briefly?
Birthdays. All I will say is this: I am getting older. It is daunting. But that is how it goes. Also, second friday the 13th birthday in my memory! (My last was, I kid you not, on my thirteenth birthday. I mean, lucky or what?! Now just see if you can work out how old this age-old dragon is.)

RIGHT! Onto the details!

The Prize:
A box of at least 7 books. Some are new. Some are sequels. One's an ARC. x2MG. x1 Adult. The rest are our good old YA.

Who can enter?
As long as you're 15+ and from Australia, you can enter!

When can we enter?
Aah... now? Oh. It's going to go until 

Romi! How do we enter!?
By following the mystical instructions of the adorable rafflecoptor, of course. And remember: READ THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Luck be with you, and happy days! xx

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

Title- A Wrinkle in Time.
Author- Madeleine L'Engle.
Publish date- 1962, 2007.
Publisher- Square Fish.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The story of an adventure through space and time, with companions in the form of three children, three celestial spirits and characters who are charming and unique and, it must be said, not always nice.

What I thought:
Oh, how I sing the praises of this book. I read the graphic novel first and adored it every moment, and bought a copy of the novel, a beautiful edition, with no hesitation that the novel would prove to be anything but as brilliant. This, I must say, is unusual for me. But a stroke of luck.
The novel was, from the very start, like stepping back into a story you know you adore. I could say 20 pages in that it was one of my all time favourite novels, and that stands for the graphic novel and original, alike and unique in their standing.
Madeleine L'Engle writes a story that is true and full of beauty alongside harsh realities; in Meg I find a companion and a fictional representation of myself, in the Mrs. Ws friends, in Aunt Beast a creature of great caring and compassion who I treasure.
I love this story intently. For what it is. For what it does. Gives. For who I meet in it's pages and the joy I get from each word. It is, in a novel, pure joy.

Rating: Big Explosion, MIND BLOWN.
One of the best stories I have ever, could ever read. Pure magic.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart...

Title- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
Author- E. Lockhart.
Publish date- January, 2015.
Publisher- Allen and Unwin.
RRP- $14.99

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Frankie Landau-Banks is a mega mastermind. 
Few people understand this. Fewer understand the extent of her mastry.
Frankie doesn't like to be ordered around or kept out of things for no good reason, so when she finds out her boyfriend is lying to her and going to secret society club meetings, she is quite happy and capable of taking matters into her own hands without letting anybody know.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image Source: Allen and Unwin.

What I thought:
I have been incredibly keen to read The Disreputable History of Frankie L-B for many years. It was one of the first books I ever added to my goodreads to-read list and has never left that list, amidst the many tidies it had seen; it's quite strange, then, that I was fortunate enough to recieve a review copy after being so eager to read it for some years, and even more strange that it was not a thing like I anticipated. It was more serious, less mysterious in certain ways, not quite so lighthearted, and more thought-provoking than I could've hoped for.

It tells the story of Frankie Landau-Banks and her journey to become her true self, I think, and that was, for me, the story that was at the base of it all. Frankie feels shaped and moulded by the whims, expectations and decisions of those around her, and when she finds the boy she's liked for over a year as her boyfriend, she is determined not to become a girl who mindlessly follows, at the same time as not risking a breakup. She sees the ways this happens to others, sees it creep towards her, and she takes steps to ensure it stays at bay.
This, as a whole, was a theme that, really, made me so very happy. Frankie stood out from so many fictional characters, and not just in her self retention. She was intrigued and angry and powerful, cunning and determined and clever, and her traits made a character who was not only an active part in her happiness, but a lively person to read about and someone whose story I truly wanted to follow, and did so with eagerness. It wasn't how I imagined. In many ways, it wasn't better. But certainly it was more profound.

Rating: Excellent.
I would recommend this book eagerly. It shows a character who handles herself and makes mistakes and is controlling, all in the search to be true to herself, and it's a really thought-provoking read.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mini Review (10)

Anders and the Comet- Gregory Mackay.
To describe this book in one word would be to use this one: Neat.
It's splendid, imaginative, like one of the adventures I would have as a child- it felt just like a child's mind or spirit, with the feel and direction of the story, and to step back to that was and is always a wonderful feeling. It didn't make any big statements, simply went into the story, which was nicely layered with the suggestions at Bernie's (a young elephant) background and Eden's (seen wearing the eyepatch) mothers, and told something that was memorable and enjoyable and really quote neat. I love the comic/graphic/manga way of storytelling and really love that it's how this was told; it made the story unique, interesting and I feel so excited for everyone who picks it up and discovers this different way of storytelling.
Anders and the Comet is the first in a series and I, for one, am really looking forward to the next installment.

Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image Credit: Allen and Unwin.

The Boyfriend List- E. Lockhart.
I bought my copy of The Boyfriend List as an ex-library copy, forgetting that it was actually no longer on my tbr list- it was the very same copy I'd tried and given up on some months before, but I did not recall that I hadn't felt the desire to give it another try and splurged a whole 50c. And it turned out to be a really fantastic read.
Ruby was a very real and nicely unlikable character. I really admire the way she was written with faults, faults she acknowledged even though she knew they weren't right. She would talk about all the things that meant she should feel one way, all the things she believed in, and yet she idn't feel that way and she knew it. Admitted it. She still believed, though. even if she felt something that wasn't aligned with those beliefs, and I really, really loved that. She did the wrong thing and blamed people before she blamed herself, and she displayed such character growth as she traversed the course of this novel; as the story unfolded I came to grow more and more interested in it, thinking and feeling and relating and enjoying it a huge amount.
Thank you to the luck and chance of library sales. And Santa Clause christmas wrapping, for corner mending.

Minton Goes! - Anna Fienberg, Kim Gamble.
I think I would have sunk, had I read the collection of stories in Minton Goes to myself, especially after the first story, The Hottest Boy, which I thought was fairly marvellous- a marvellousness that I didn't feel throughout the rest of the book. But as it happens, I decided to read the stories to my niece, and though The Hottest Boy is still my favourite of the lot and I never really took to Minton (though Turtle is, I must say, brilliant), the result is a very different one. Reading stories aloud brings forth a different kind of engagement, and for the days I read this to her, my niece was the most engaged she had ever been in a story for such a length of time. When you read them aloud, the stories (more like chapters, really) grow and become bigger, more exciting and wonderful than they would be if they were not spoken; Minton's hairbrained schemes, the friends he and Turtle make, Turtles dour perspective, voice breathes life into them in a remarkable way, and in the end I really enjoyed my experience with this book and it's, really, very neat illustrations (I truly love the way Kim Gamble mixes and utilises colour- it's very distinct and memorable): though we're not quite up to building Minton's vehicles.

Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image Credit: Allen and Unwin.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mini Reviews (9)

Chook Chook Saving the Farm - Wai Chim.
By the time I closed it, I had enjoyed Saving the Farm, but it was a struggle of a read, overall; being for an early MG audience, the writing felt like it was aimed at a very specific age group, and it didn't captivate me like I'd hoped. The story of Chinese vilages being demolished to make way for roads is one I am interested in, and that made this seem to be a really interesting read, but though there would certainly be a level of truth to it, I could't distinguish all that well. It is a pretty sweet read, though, just not one that suited me patricularly, writing-wise, and with a plot that fell a bit flat.

Thank you to UQP for this review copy!
Image Credit: UQP.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin- Russell Brand.
To me, this sounded like a funny, peculiar story, one I would laugh along with and enjoy (especially as it's illustrated by my all time favourite illustrator, Chris Riddell), and so I sat down, ready for something enjoyable to happen... only it really, really didn't.
Rather than amused I was disgusted and throughly put off. It was a book where gross things happened again and again, and my horror at how different it was to my imaginings and how endlessly it seemed to delve into the disgusting- I had been under the impression it was aimed at children, but now I am under a very different assumption. I really wanted to turn away and look at something else rather than continue to read about where the defecation of the rats that spilt into Hamelin went and what other atrocities were written about in a manner that was supposed to be humerous but only made me full of horror and annoyance. This was very far from a pleasant read for me, unfortunately.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image Credit: Allen and Unwin.

I loved Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle, so I felt hugely excited to see where he went with a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, a fairytale I've never been hugely taken with but felt I could be drawn to in this retelling- for me, though, it wasn't really anything special. I didn't feel the need to savour the experience. I'm not familiar enough with the original to notice any big differences between it and this, which made it feel very akin to the story I already knew. I had hoped for soaring highs to go with the bitter lows of the story, alterations that I would pick out by the handful and remember, think of in the future rather than the ways of the original, but none of that was true, sadly. It's written nicely, certainly, but though niceness should be well enough to make something remarkable, it didn't feel that way. I suppose you could say it was a niceness that didn't transcend, didn't lift off the page. And though they are interesting and more detailed than I imagined, the illustrations... I needed something more, for this story. Absolutely they suited the tale, but not so much me. And I suppose that's just how this went.
Thank you to Bloomsbury for this review copy!
Image Credit: Bloomsbury Australia.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Epic Reads- a tag! A Tag! A TAG I SAY.

I'm doing the Epic Reads tag, which I saw on the glorious blog The Daisy Tree, which is seriously just lovely- I don't know where this tag originated initially, so whoever created it I give you the credit! It's excellent!

1. If you could invite one author and one of their fictional characters to tea, who would you invite and what would you serve them?
Well I like to bend rules (seriously this is about as far from the truth as saying pie and cake are basically the same thing), so I'm choosing Bisco Hatori, author of the wonderful manga Ouran High School Host Club. I'd invite her and two of her characters, Tamaki and Haruhi!

2. What book do you wish the author would write the prequel for?

The Sleeper and the Spindle comes to mind. Neil Gaiman wrote such a gorgeous fairytale retelling and I want to see how me envisages Snow White's story as a full, not just the afterwards.

3. Which two characters (NOT from the same book) do you think would make a good couple?
I do like the idea of either Kasta, from Graceling, or Lyra, from His Dark Materials, being in a relationship with Celaena from the Throne of Glass series. I think they'd both make a really good pair with her, particularly Kasta.

4. If you ran into your favorite author on the subway and only could say one sentence to them, who is it and what would it be?

I don't have an all time favourite author. I think... lets say it's Catherynne M. Valente. I would basically thank her for changing my imagination and helping me see fairyland more clearly again.

5. What book made you a reader and why?
Possibly Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I vividly remember being given $20 dollars and being able to go into a bookstore and buy it, simply because it sounded interesting and I really felt passionate about it. And they're such beautiful books, those ones, the covers... I think that really bought me into novels.

6. Your bookshelf just caught fire! What is the one book you would save?
WHAT?! I repeat, WHAT?!
Probably my boxed set of A Series of Unfortunate Events, titled The Complete Wreck. It's just beautiful.

7. Which dystopian world would you want to live in and why?
 Ahh... possibly that of WondLa, the series by Tony DiTerlizzi. It's got animals that nowdays are teeny tiny and are huge (water bears), is wonderfully imaginative and also a place for adventures to take place.

8. What is your most Epic Read of all time?
Fantasy-wise, it's currently the Throne of Glass series, by the brilliant Sarah J. Maas.

This is an incredibly fun tag! I bid you do it! No specifics- if you looked to see if I tagged you, please do it and give me a link. I'll be thrilled!