Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Book of Days by K. A. Barker...

Title- The Book of Days.
Author- K. A. Barker.
Publish date- September, 2014.
Publisher- Pan Macmillan Australia.
RRP- $18.99 AUD.


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
She may have woken with no memory, but the moment she takes on the name Tuesday the heroine of this story decides to find out who she used to be, so she can go on and become who she is now. She will meet a lot of wonderful people on her journey.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for this review copy!

What I thought:
The Book of Days captivated me with it's entrancing, imagination-filling opening, it's journey of discovery filled with the words you always wish(ed) to hear, the hilarity of travelling companions whose sense of humor is bleak and blunt and every moment delightful, with it's desire to give Tuesday the best possible adventure, even if that means she's got to experience painful things, death and loss and truths that would have never been left but may have been better if they had, with it's wonder and desperation ad impossible choices, with it's promise, which is fulfilled every page. With it's creations, that astounded and delighted me.
Delighted. Captivated. Entranced.
The Book of Days did all this, and it left me so very glad for imagination and fantastical happenings and stories about girls who woke up with nothing and decide that's not right, what they want is to be someone, so they stand with their name Tuesday and they go and become something. And she became something quite, quite wonderful.

There are cities that fly, contraptions that make my mind whir, assistant librarians who may be blind through a terrible tragedy but can still laugh louder and at more bluntly said things than anyone else. A woman with a wooden leg who is fierce and sad and wonderful, a very old, very amusing, very sweet (unintentionally) man, and, of course, that girl called Tuesday.

Rating: More than Excellent.
It is quite perfect. More than that- it's marvellously, rompfully, wonderful

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Two Tags in One Post- Great Value.

And I'm all about the value. The incredibly sweet Gina was lovely and tagged me in the TBR and Bookshelf tags. I shall go forth and see what comes of this. First up, the TBR TAG.

 How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
I have a block in my bookcase full of books I own that I have to read, though review books get their own pile. (No mixing!) And then I use the very handy goodreads. That stores everything I want to read but don't own.

Is your TBR mostly print or eBook?
I don't read ebooks, as a matter of fact! So it's all print, though there are a few online only shorts and things, like The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
Depends if I have review books. I read review books in order of when they got to me- kind of a first to get there gets priority system. If I'm all caught up on my review books, I'll either read a library book that I'm most interested in (or is shortest) or glance at my bookshelf and pull out something I've been meaning to read for a while. I'm making progress! I am!

A book that's been on your TBR the longest?
Persuasion and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. They've both been marked to-read on goodreads since the 27th of September. 2011.

A book you recently added to your TBR?
The last book I added to GR was The Pied Piper of Hamelin, which is one of the Russell Brand retellings. I'm mighty intrigued.

A book on your TBR strictly because of it's beautiful cover?
Cover love does play a part in me wanting to read a book, but with all the sorting I do to make sure I definitely want to read EVERY BOOK on my goodreads tbr, books I add just because of their cover don't last long. I don't know that there are any right now.

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?
Well I plan on reading them all, but I also plan on removing Wuthering Heights from my owned shelf, since I have no intention of reading it anymore.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you're excited for?
That would be Throne of Glass book 4, which I did not realise I hadn't added to my tbr until just now. Also Sarah's retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you?
Well not everyone, but I own an ARC of Shattered Me and I don't know what to do with it. I didn't like it at all when I tried to read it first, but I'm uneasy about just recycling it!

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends you?
I don't get recommended that many books, but Aristotle and Dante is firmly waiting to be read, and many people adore it.

A book on your TBR that you're dying to read?
Aristotle and Dante!

How many books on your Goodreads TBR shelf?
I'm in the process of cleaning it, and have removed about 40 books; currently it's at 336. I want to get it below 300.

La tag that refers to a shelf of books.

This is my bookshelf! I've had it installed in my room for a little over a year and adore it- initially I did a rainbow bookshelf, but now it's alphabetical. If I took another picture to the left, there is another double shelf like this, though that's my brother's half. 

Is there a book that you really want to read but haven't because you'll know it'll make you cry?
I have only ever cried properly in three books, and rarely show emotion whilst reading, so this isn't really something I'm phased about.

Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre?

The Giver! It introduced me to Dystopia. The fact it has a orange tag means it's a summer reread.

Find a book you want to re-read?

The Three Loves of Persimmon, This is Shyness, the Mara Dyer books, Throne of Glass... I hadn't realised how quaint it was that I have Lego figures waging poetical fights on the top of the ToG books.

Is there a book series you read but wish you hadn't?
For the ending it would be The Maze Runner. I really couldn't stand the last book, and the second was going downwards. I really didn't enjoy Reached, in the Matched trilogy, but I guess I would just unread the last books. Then no doubt go back and read them all over again.

If your house was burning down and all your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside and save?

My own! I would try and save my writing, but if it was all safe as well (just trying to think how I'd carry out my 70liter fish tank...) I'd probably get my signed copies of Suzanne LaFleur's work.  I've got quite a collection, and I know she would resign my things, but I would be sad to loose them, the ARCs and all. (Also pictured is my Charlie and Lola mug, which got broken. I have a lot of broken things that I mend, or half mend (you should've seen this before I glued it) and keep on my shelf.)

Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur, because I started a correspondence with Suzanne after reading it and we became great friends, and My Family and Other Animals, because it's one of the most influential books in my life and makes me dream endlessly.

Find a book that has inspired you the most?
My Family and Other Animals!

Do you have any autographed books?
Yes! A couple of Suzanne's books are signed, Lian Tanner's Museum series, and... Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen and Corby Flood by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.

Find a book that you have owned the longest?
One of my many picture books, though which I've no idea. The the family copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which came out soon after I was born.

Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?

I was incredibly surprised by my love for Mark Forsyth's The Horologicon. (Not to mention how much I grew to feel fondness for My Little Pony's.)

Thank you for these tags, Gina! I had a lot of fun, and I hope this tour of my bookshelf was interesting!

Would you like to be tagged? Are you hoping you'll get tagged? BAM. You're it. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Books for when you're... (17)

Each fortnight, month, fifteenth full moon of the half equational motion of the earths full circuit I will showcase 1-2 books that I think would be fantastic reading if you're going through a  certian emotion/stage in your life.

Wanting a World to Dream in.
Inspired by Lesley's review of This is Shyness, and that book; sometimes a land of dreams is all you desire.

This is Shyness- Leanne Hall.
The obvious choice. You only have to take a gander at my or Lesley's review to see that there's a certain amount of dreaminess to it's every page, and I was totally lost in this strange, softly dazzling, hurdy gurdy novel. It's wonderfully strange and strangely wonderful.

The Three Loves of Persimmon- Cassandra Golds.
This post also doubles to make up the two main books on my to re-read list! A perfect reminder.
It's been many years since I read this, but it sits with pride on my bookshelf and I feel intense love for it each time my eye glances over it. It's such a beautiful story, soft and almost akin to a moving, startling, whimsical piece of poerty.

Stay tuned for some more bookish suggestions for the good times, and the bad.
So far I've covered-

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Book Gif Tag of tagginess and Updates of dates.

The incredibly lovely Ella tagged me in the Book Gif Tag, and while it has taken me time to make this response, I have! Finally! I actually do not use gifs on my blog, so I'm going to be doing it a different way, writing down my immediate reactionary thoughts in place of the moving images otherwise expected. I also don't plan to tag anyone, because I think whoever wants to do it, be it you or you or you, then you can do it! Seriously, DO IT IF YOU'VE BEEN WANTING TO.

Now, the books.

Alice In Wonderland 
Excitement excitement excitement! I love this, though I read it when I was in the "before a teenager" time, and I'm skeptical about Lewis Carrol himself and the background of this story. It's strange and marvellous and twinkly. The perfect imagination booster. Like a vitamin.


Eee-blub. Kind of like a hyena noise. I haven't read this and don't plan to, because from my knowledge it has a dangerous relationship in it and makes it seem positive, and that I do not like.

Every Breath 

This is the book that is a modern Sherlock Holms, isn't it? I know that it is widely loved, but I know very little about it. It has a stock image on it's cover, though, with the girl from 13 Reasons Why and that always amuses me.

Grave Mercy 
I could have got a copy of this recently but decided to get it the next week and then went back to the store and it was gone. I must not let Ella find out.

Clockwork Angel 

I recall being very taken aback by the opening, which was gruesome and detailed in it's gore, but otherwise I'm not very interested in this book/series. It seems like a long series.

The Selection 

My impression of this series is that I thought there were three books and there are going to be five, I wanted to read it for about a year and subsequently decided that I did not, and characters switch their feelings a lot.


The book that made me decide to call my future dog Kasta! I love love love this, and the relationship between Kasta and Po, Po and Bitterblue, Blitterblue and Kasta, and the ending... all fantastic and thrilling and golly.

Skulduggery Pleasant 
I am super keen to read this, but have as of yet not ordered it (remembered to) from my library. It has a talking skeleton in it, and if anyone knows me (I've told no one this who hasn't watched it with me before) my favourite character in Super Ted is Skeleton. It follows I should love this.

The Distance Between Us.

I nearly take this off my tbr each time I do a goodreads clean! I always wonder why it's... oh nope. Different book. Whoops. Well, I have no story to tell about this one.

Poison Study

Lauren wants me to read it a lot, and I shall! I shall! Picture a pile of growing books and that will be my two month break.

I wasn't sure when I'd get to writing this, but apparently it's going to be NOW! As some of you may remember from last year, come the last day of November I posted a picture of a bunch of books I was planning to read during my two month break from the internet, encompassing December and January. I am incredibly excited (and have been since March) that I'll be doing it annually, since I just loved that time, which means that for two months there will be radio silence here. I won't be reading posts, commenting, posting. I'll be back in February, though!

I think my silence will come sooner than even December 1st, though, since with NaNo coming up in a week I will have little time for commenting and reading other posts, since my schedule is hectic as it is- I'm doing a childcare training course, looking after my niece for half every week, trying to get as much of my own writing done as possible. I recently entered my manuscript that I've been working on since 2011 to two competitions, though, which I'll hear back about at the end of Nov or the beginning of Dec about, which was intense editing and SO exciting for me. I feel so positive about my work and this is the best read-through/edit I've done yet. It's fallen into place, and next year (depending on how this all goes) I'll be starting to send it out to agents, which is terrifying and exciting and tremulous.
I do have posts scheduled for November, and will be filling the rest of it up with the rest, but after that I will be like a mysterious bubble floating about wishing you happy holidays and reading books and editing and working. It will be wonderful, but I will miss talking to you! Maybe we should start writing snail-mail to each other. *nods at the greatness of this idea*

You want to give me recommendations of books to read? GO FOR IT. I already have a lot, but there is always time for books.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas...

Title- Heir of Fire.
Author- Sarah J. Maas.
Publish date- September, 2014.
Publisher- Bloomsbury.
RRP- $15.99 (AUD)

*Contains spoilers for the other books in the Throne of Glass series*

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Did you think Celaena would have it easy?

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

What I thought:
I cannot believe quite how much I love this series. With every twist, be it amusing, intense, joyous or heartwrenching (the latter of which many are) I just get so involved in the story that very little else matters. Other stories, many of my projects faltering until I've finished.
The Throne of Glass novels are, for me, like an emotional sweeping machine, taking practically everything I've got and sucking it up. It's been a long time since I've felt so much for a single character as I do for Celaena, and for the others whose stories are simultaneously unfolding in their world, for te future of the world itself. Sarah J. Maas proves herself again and again, besting herself with each novel, proving she is willing to send her characters to dark places, willing to write them as much fear and horror as joy, and I respect her immensely for that.

I throughly enjoyed all of the varying POVs, and all the new characters, the levels added to the old, and I quite enjoyed seeing the Glass Palace without Celaena in it, though it only seems the more terrifying in her absence. Still, it is Celaea, raw from her soul shattering sorrow and departure, who remains outstanding above Manon and Dorian and Rowan and all the rest; she opens herself so brutally in this book that I felt it all, and she is in so much pain for so many things that I could hardly bare it, could hardly imagine how she did, that every moment I wanted to be there as she struggled on, rediscovering her fae half in fascinating, carefully written scenes.

There were so many passages filled with hope, joy, anguish or amusement, and yet I underlined non! Later I was glad, though, since this means I can do a reread (of the whole series) when Summer comes, and oh how I look forward to it.

There were no faults, nothing I could point to and wish away or altered; I took close on 80 pages to truly feel myself in the story, really there and feeling it all, but I still enjoyed those pages. Even the ending, which damn near ruined my Throne of Glass heart with it's power and majesty and horror, even that didn't leave me unhappy. Terrified, yes. But I'd not change it. I'm glad to know that there is risk for these people I adore, even as I hold back tears.

The best of all of them.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Brick Flicks by Warren Elsmore...

Title- Brick Flicks.
Author- Warren Elsmore.
Publish date- October 1st, 2014.
Publisher- Allen and Unwin.
RRP- $24.99 AUD.


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The cover says it all. Films. Films you may have watched, heard of, or never known existed. Scenes from them. Lego. Put it all together, and you have Brick Flicks.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image Credit: Allen and Unwin.

What I thought:
Brick Flicks is an idea I love- showcasing 60 films in Lego? Fantastic! And the potential, not only with the creations but with the new films to be discovered, too, and the intrigue as to what fi;ms would appear (I was overjoyed to see Dirty Dancing, a film I discovered for the first time only recently and ADORE in endless capitals, featured) was immense. I have a mass of markers (26 by my count!) for films I now want to see, and I am really fascinated by the fact many of them, like The Italian Job, I may have heard of but never been particularly interested in until now, for the information, facts and summaries (though painfully spoilery on more than one occasion) are very intriguing and make me want to find out more, see the related film for myself.

I was not particularly surprised, when I think about it, by most of the fi;ms chosen for the book; a lot are films hailed as the best (and this is of the most iconic, I relent), ones featured in top ten lists, and though some (movies I've heartily enjoyed like Austen Powers and Waynes World) did surprise me by being included, I would've liked a bit more diversity. Isn't it a fantastic idea to recreate a scene from Labyrinth in Lego? It is, I think, very iconic, and yet there were few films I have truly loved featured (and no period dramas!) which makes me a little sad.

It was not the Lego, as I would have expected, however, that stood out as the best part of the book for me, because I can only say that there were four I thought truly wonderful, the best of them being Dracula. I felt disappointed, because though I can't imagine the lengths to which time and effort was put to make these scenes what they were, I often wished there was more- a bit more detail or intricacy or link to the film. Many were surprisingly simple, and whilst for The Birds that works very well, for many it left me dissatisfied.

Rating: Ooh, Very Good.
Overall, though let down a bit by the Lego, this is a marvellous book and has introduced me to many a new film, and heightened my wish to return to many more. And seeing film scenes and posters made from Lego is reliably hilarious.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer...

Title- Belzhar.
Author- Meg Wolitzer.
Publish date- October 1st, 2014.
Publisher- Simon and Schuster.
RRP- $16.99 (AUD)


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Jam is unable to recover from a tragedy that shook her life, stealing away her happiness and will, and so her parents send her to a school. There she is put into a special english class and meets four other teenagers who have all been through their own tragedy, and she is also given a very strange journal, which brings on stranger things when she writes in it.

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

What I thought:
I was intrigued by Belzhar (which, after a very long time, I can only just begin to pronounce properly- or what I hope is properly). Intrigued, captivated, moved and, ultimately, let down.
But that, as people in novels often say, is getting ahead of myself.

The story starts with possibly the best (vying with The Book of Days) opening I've read this year, and it caught my attention and held it, wondered about loosing it a little later, then held it in a not particularly firm grip, but a grip nonetheless.
The point where the 5 Special Topics (not tropics, as I often mistook and read) in English class students (students of a school for teenagers who would not cope in a regular school situation) start to share their stories was captivating. These are dark stories, the reasons behind why they are at the school and whilst I did throughly enjoy getting each story, felt the characters truly taking shape before me as I understood them, their motives and, in all 5 cases, what had left them broken, yet it felt a bit clockwork-like. I knew I would get the next story within the next two chapters, and I would have liked some to be more unexpected in how we discovered them- I also found it frustrating/unfair, from the point of view of the other characters, that through we readers learnt all the stories, two weren't shared with the group (one is planned to, in mention). Everyone else cracked open a dark part in their lives, gave something precious and intimate to these others, and it seemed bitterly unfair that not everyone reciprocated, not everyone, apart from Jam, got to know each story.

This, and a few other things, were relatively small (that the biggest until we got to the end) problems for me, though, and they didn't stop me following the story avidly (I thought to use the word "enjoy", but from my experience with this novel that would be a very unfitting word) and wanted to know the truth of these broken characters in such a strong manner that I felt like they had become little more than presentations at a show, with me the eager onlooker.
I can't say that, apart from Sierra, I truly liked any of the characters. Her story hit me with few stops pulled, and her character felt like the most vivid and real for me, though I also note that liking the characters didn't feel wholly necessary. I understood them and I felt for and with them and I think that's what was needed. Not like or dislike. Understanding.

The reason I ended up feeling so disappointed in the story, why I started to feel dislike for the way things turned creeping forward, that would involve revealing something incredibly spoilery, the whole plot (well, a large, large portion of it) gone. I will try very hard to keep it clean, but best you've read/don't plan to read the book before reading the following (highlight it), just in case.
*Spoilery!*The truth about Jam's story was really surprising (well, I'd suspected but not for a while, and the way it came about still surprised me) and for the sympathy I had felt for her, the emotion I and other characters had felt, I felt like I had been deviously lied to. And I'm very mixed when I think that, because I still feel sorry for her, still understand and if it was a true to life situation I would understand it more clearly and not feel the frustration or annoyance, but with Jam, what she did and felt and how she acted, I couldn't help but thikn she was a little ridiculous. I couldn't believe her, actually, and I felt very, very frustrated.*Endofspoilerybits!*

My final (well) point is that Jam calls herself, referring to her past, one of the "nice" girls. Three times this happens and it just frustrated me endlessly. She uses it as an explaination as to why her behaviour was so surprising, like she wouldn't usually do this or that because she was one of the nice girls, and I got sick of it- because of how she paints herself and her actions and other people around her who don't fit into that catagory. I started to wonder if maybe she was truly evil and wanting to ward everyone off the signal.
Jam is also quite judgemental, I felt, of a number of things.

*Another note*
Jam has been sent, unwillingly, by her parents to the Wooden Barn, and she wants to go home but they don't allow it, not until she's lasted a semester at least, AND YET her mother, later in the book, suggests pulling her out early when she is actually starting to show improvement. I found this very irritating.

Rating: Poor. Sometimes a level down, sometimes a level or even two up, but smushed together...
Belzhar was unique (though I was reminded a bit of The Dead Poets Society with the descriptions, way of teaching, school feel, ect.) and intriguing and I thought it was done well, but Jam was a character I didn't have a connection with, and my irritations with some of her actions outweighed my enjoyment in or of the story itself.