Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil...

Title- The Incredible Adventures of Cinammon Girl.
Author- Melissa Keil.
Publish date- September 2014.
Publisher- Hardie Grant Egmont.
RRP- $18.95 (AUD)


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
This is the story of the end of the world, an artist who is struggling with more than just her rebelling creation, garden gnomes with funny names, and delicious food.
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for this review copy!
Image Source: Hardie Grant Egmont.

What I thought:
There is something incredible addictive about Melissa Keil's writing. I found this out when I read her YA debut Life in Outer Space last year, and though the these two stories are incredibly different, that certain *something* lingers, transpiring plot and characters and the adventures had by all. There is a beautiful peculiarity to her work, a uniqueness to her stories and the stories of her characters, and I love it.

Cinammon Girl follows the story of Alba, who is struggling with a new comic character (the titled) she has designed whilst watching her small down become hysterical as it is inundated by people who believe it is the only spot that will survive the oncoming apocolypse, and I did imagine Cinnamon Girl would take a greater role in the story, become a more fleshed out character, though she stays rather one-dimensional. Still I love her, for her design on the oh my gosh beautiful cover, for the detail in which her world (that of a comic-artist) is described, for what she represents. She is as much a character as any of the speaking ones, and remains possibly my favourite.

The other characters, even though I had a couple of faults with their behaviour at times, are also fantastic, and I swelled at the friendship of Alba, Grady, Pete, Tia, Eddie and Caroline- all of them got to show their own spirit and affected Alba's story in incredibly important ways that I just adored. I did have a bit of an issue with Eddie's story arc (he's happy to finish school at year 11 and most of the friends think that's just awful, a waste, disgraceful ect.) however, and wasn't particularly pleased with how it was handled.

The story amused the heck out of me. I've marked at least 10 points in the book and almost all are there to mark hilarious quotes (many having something to do with gnomes), which remind me of my extreme love for the story, for Alba, for Cleo and Angie (two of the most interesting, genuine and lovable fictional parents I've thusfar met) and just the interestingness of the story. It is hilarious and wonderful and captivating and I don't express emotions when reading hardly ever, but this? Well. This had me snorting and smiling and marking pages so I can do it all over again.

Rating: Practically Excellent.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if a small Australian town was the last surviving point come the apocolypse?
Well, you may just find out if you read this. Also, it's very funny.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski...

I am currently running a giveaway, open in Australia only, where you can enter to win 1 of 3 copies of the amazing As Red As Blood!

Title- The Winner's Curse.
Author- Marie Rutkoski.
Publish date- July 2014.
Publisher- Bloomsbury.
RRP- $15.99 (AUD).

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
In a fascinating and deadly world, where the people who used to rule are slaves of the conquerers, a young woman buys a slave, a young man, and it's the worst thing she could do, but she begins to fall in love with him.
Image Credit: Bloomsbury.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for this review copy!

What I thought:
The Winner's Curse. I believed I would love it. More than that, I was TOLD would love it. Many times. Even after I read a review where someone hadn't liked it, I still felt I would because it had such a world, such a synopsis and cover and beautiful writing.
Unfortunately, none of that left me speechless. Indeed, I was critical of it. There were only two things I really liked, in the end: 

numerou uno- the design

numerou dos- the last 30 pages

I had loved the cover earlier on, but when I started reading and truly looked at it, I realised that there were too many things about it that I didn't like and that left me with the font and text design/placing. Those I liked a lot. The rest was rather anti-climactic.

The second point is rather a more difficult one.
I read the book in a couple of days, and whilst I found areas of it to be lacking and I certainly wasn't rivited, I got through it.
I didn't dislike the story- the world felt through, and it was a readable plot- but the fact that the romance, which I didn't feel at all, was such a massive part of the plot left it so lacking for me. The romance, I think, makes up the plot- that is what the story revolves around, with other things happening on what feels like the outskirts, and when I didn't feel it it left very little for me to grab hold of and enjoy.
Arin, who I much preferred calling Erin and turning into a female character, and Kesteral and their romance was not apparent to me, and had there not been such a bigness of it I wonder if I'd really have anticipated it; as it was, I found that aspect to be irritating, particularly Arin's half (and him in general), and I didn't feel it. Didn't understand it. It didn't do anything for me.

The moments, change of pace and twists of the storyline in the last 30 pages did captivate me, and I followed that avidly, but is 30 pages enough, when there are 320 on the other side?

Rating: Poor.
I didn't dislike it, not apart from Arin and how frustrating I found him, and the romance that just didn't appear for me, but it didn't ever take flight and soar off into my imagination. Not once. So this is the end of the Curses for Winners, at least for me.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Tag! You will now learn things about ME!

Well this is intimidating. I do not write about about myself unless it has something to do with how much I liked a book, so I am taking many sips of iced tea whilst I consider how to proceed.

The lovely Joy from Thoughts by J tagged me to do the 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me tag, so lets see if I can be surprising, shall we?

One. How Tall Are You?
I am 154-156cm. I don't know when I last measured myself, but from my experience it is not a wise (or, in my case, accurate) move to try and measure yourself. It leads to descrution and marks about four inches above your eyeline on walls.

Two. Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
I worked out my three talents the other day (month) actually, but I can only remember... two of them. They were an impressive lot, but oh well. A lost memory is a lost memory, and my memory is poor.
1. I can make the right amount of thickshake/smothie for up to three people (all I've tried) just by estimation, and they are pretty splendid drinks, if I say so myself.
and 2. If I loose my page in a book, I can open it back to that page on my first try most of the time.
Told you they were impressive.

Three. What's your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
Ah... well my blog is about books and my writing, so I'll bend this question a little and answer that it is getting behind on my reviews! I fret about it a lot.

Four. What is your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
Most of them have to do with cleanliness and hygiene. I dislike getting a book from the library that has bits of food in it. I've had chocolate ice cream fingers marking about 6 pages before, and as much as I love the library system, that was pretty awful for me.

Five. What's your favourite song?
I really love Burning Gold by Christina Perri right now, and am rediscovering my love for her work. Also We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off by Ella Eyre, and Not Crying by Flight of the Conchords.

Six. What's your favourite etsy shop that isn't yours?
I recently discovered this one, and adore it! I have some candles ordered and cannot wait to get them! I mean, for me you can hardly get better than book inspired candles!

Seven. What's your favourite way to spend free time when you're alone?
I love to skype with my overseas friends! Monopoly on skype in a joy, and it's just a really glorious experience. I also love writing and editing my work.

Eight. What is your favourite junk food?
Hmm... I struggled with food issues when I was quite young and have found a really healthy balance for me, but I don't necessarily like thinking of food I enjoy eating as junk food because of how it makes my mind whirr. I do love icecream and apple pie, though.

Nine. Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
I have a lot of pets- well, they're family pets, but that's basically the same. Peacock + Peahen, geese, ducks, chickens, goats, dog, cat. My personal pets are a black dwarf lop eared rabbit called Hugo after a book character, and two goldfish (one gold, one white) called Hester and Bob. To my endless joy, Bob turned out to be a female.

Ten. What are your number one favourite nonfiction and fiction books?
All time favourite (and non-fiction)- My Family and Other Animals by Gerard Durrell.
Fiction- The Book Thief/Harry Potter/His Dark Materials/Fairyland/Throne of Glass.

Eleven. What's your favourite beauty product?
My skin is super sensitive to makeup (the aftermath of years of ballet concerts was not fun) and I only ever wear the very occasional lip tint/stick. I love my Lush It Started With A Kiss tint, though. It tastes nummy.

Twelve. When were you last embarassed? What happened?
Ah, I can't think of anything! I'm sure there was something, but...? Hilarious, but not embarassing- I made a collage of my best "faces"for my grandmother, since she said I'd promised to give her a picture of myself. It is unflattering, but we're all amused.

Thirteen. If you could only drink one beverage for the rest of your life (besides h20) what would it be?
Tea. I love green mint and rooibos blends, but if I say tea then I can drink them all!

Fourteen. What's your favourite movie?
Animated: Howls Moving Castle (and other Hayao Miyzaki films).
Live action: Labyrinth/Dirty Dancing.

Fifteen. What were you in high school?
I could've listed and chosen out of a bunch of things, but I was what I am now and what I no longer am. A writer and a dancer. Also home educated.

Sixteen. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I love my house, the garden and everything about the place I live. I would love to try England and Corfu one day, though, and France.

Seventeen. PC or MAC?
Mac. I love my MacBook Pro, despite the fact I use it only a couple of days a week. It's lovely to write on.

Eighteen. Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend?
Well that hasn't happened.

Nineteen. Favourite celebrity?
I really like Saoirse Ronan- her acting is superb and I can connect with the roles she plays.

Twenty. What Blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?
I really appreciate the kindness and friendship of the book bloggers I've been lucky enough to meet thanks to my infatuation with books. You are incredibly amazing people. I would like to be better friends with all you I've been able to get to know, even a little! You're splendid!

Tagging intimidates me. I particularly want you all to do this tag, if you so wish, which of course includes-

and a few others who I believe have already done it. Each of you have been so nice to me, and if tagging is a form of thankyou, than I tag you a gazillion times.
Thank you Joy for bringing me into this! x


Books for when you're... (16)

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 to be somewhere else.
A different world or just with a bunch of characters who will captivate you with no holding back.

Un Lun Dun- China Miéville.
The other version of London is featured in this book (not to mention men with birdcages for heads and milk carton friends) and what a place it is! There is darkness lurking and so much whimsy. Umbrella ninjas! You don't have time to think of anything else, not with all the wonder and twists in this story.

Coraline- Neil Gaiman.
It's the kind of read that pulls you along, even though you might be the teeniest bit terrified of where exactly it is taking you- it's a whirlwind of a story and a little bit impossible not to run after.

Poison- Bridget Zinn.
A really incredible story of a young woman who tried to poison her best friend- a friend who just happened to be a princess. A poisoner, the most talented in the kingdom, is on the run and the princess she so desperately wanted dead is still out there. It's just a brief overview and already I'm there!

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson...

Title- Scarlett Fever (Scarlett #2)
Author- Maureen Johnson
Publish date- July 2014
Publisher- Hot Key Books
RRP- $16.95

*Certainly contains spoilers for Scarlett book #1*

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Scarlett is back in action: working for Mrs. Amberson in different ways each day, many which she could never have anticipated, back at school with a most horrifying lab partner who seems set to try and make her crack, following the dramas and hopes and dreams of her family, and trying to work out her own life alongside all manner of hilarious antics.
Image Credit: Hot Key Books.
Thank you to Hot Key Books for this review copy!

What I thought:
Despite the fact that reviews seemed to intimate that this was a phenomenal follow up and better than Suite Scarlett, when I first started reading, well into the first fifty pages and perhaps further, I feared that this would not prove to be so for me.
I had enjoyed Suite Scarlett less than I had been irritated by it, and with no hotel mystery for our savvy heroine to solve in sight, and with said heroine mooning over the failed relationship that had been my main source of irritation from book #1, it didn't look like things were going so well.

At this point in the review, I will press pause on the image before us and give a documentary stye narrative.
I really don't know much about this series, it seems: from my entire plot misconception to the fact I thought in the next, and possibly last, book Scarlett somehow changes her hair style and colour and is the heroine of a book that has no "Scarlett" in the title. The book I am speaking about is The Key to the Golden Firebird, and seeing it on the back cover of both the first and second book made me think that surely it was the next in line.
It's not.
When I learnt this, stumbling upon the last page of Scarlett Fever and looking with bemusement for the next page, impressed and, again, bemused by the choice of ending- next move is to go onto goodreads to mark the next book as to-read-
No next book on goodreads.
Search book I believe is supposed to be next.
It's either standalone or in a different series, but it does. Not. Follow. On. And this made me concerned.
Because I'd grown to love the book, and while it's all good and merry to give such a end of chapter like ending when the next book is already out, that is not so when there doesn't seem to be even a set release date for it!

Press play. Image continues.
So, I had come to enjoy Scarlett Fever. Scarlett, whilst still occasionally frustrating in her mooning over such a dreadful romance, became a truly remarkable character. There was sibling bonding of a really different kind and I loved seeing such a vastly new side to Lola, found Marlene (who Scarlett blankly cannot understand and doesn't *really* like) to be pretty wonderful, and Spencer too played his role impeccibly.
True the parents rarely feature for more than a page or two, but the siblings are so wonderful you could darn near ignore it.
I enjoyed this and all the other amusing aspects to the story- marked a quote and laughed in some of the many amusing scenes, but it wasn't quite "it" yet. Then came the twist.
The twist sent me scurrying and page flipping and everything,  everything was out of control.
It was fantastic.

Rating: Excellent!
It was a step up. A fantastic, giant step up. Annoying mooning and romance was broached and gave me chances to glare at the book, but with all the other characters, practically, being on my side about it it was a bit of a triumph, though Scarlett doesn't really listen, as such.
Hilarious. Moresome. Excellent.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Toby and the Secrets of the Tree by Timothée de Fombelle...

Title- Toby and the Secrets of the Tree. (Tobie Lolness #2)
Author- Timothée de Fombelle.
Publish date- 2009.
Publisher- Walker Books.

*May Contain Spoilers for the first book in the series*

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The stakes are impossibly high as Toby must leave the Grass people he has come to love and return to the tree to face his past and all the horror that he had tried to forget along with it.

What I thought:
Would it be hard to find a sequel any kind of a match for a book with green text that I loved so dearly once a upon a not so very long time, actually, ago?

How could any book compare to a book with so much originality and green text (it's obvious what left an impression on me, isn't it?) when this book most certainly did not have green text and was a follow on of the originality and imagination I had so loved?

And whilst this didn't feel the same, was without some of the oh-my-what-is-this energy that can only come from the entirely fresh, it was still wonderful.
I wasn't gasping when I turned the final page, as I was with book 1, but I was happy and, though it doesn't sound so monumental as it may have once (content is perhaps a word that's lost some of it's strength with use), I was content.

There has always been a level of sudden violence to these books that has surprised me, especially as the covers don't imply anything of the sort, and in a way it felt like, with the higher stakes, the deaths and ways of them- the hurt inflicted- felt somewhat steeper, too, the violence inventive in a way I've not seen in any other books before. Everything, really, is written and felt in a truly singular way, and I think that is really, really an astonishing thing.

I foresaw quite a lot of the twists that were to come to a head quite early on, but that didn't actually effect how the story went, because these books are just so unpredictable in every way that knowing one or two things really could be seen as an advantage.

Rating: A few smidgons highter than Ooh, very good.
It wasn't quite a match for the first book, and it didn't really turn out how I had expected/anticipated/maybe even hoped, in some ways, but it is a really wonderful sequel.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

State of Grace by Hilary Badger...

Title- State of Grace.
Author- Hilary Badger.
Publish date- October 2014.
Publisher- Hardie Grant Egmont.
RRP- $19.95 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A carefree, happy, perfect world where you only have to be dotly to be happy. Two or three rules to be abided by and your days are free for however you would like to spend them. It's all you could wish for.
Or it's a lie, because something isn't quite right. 

Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for this review copy!
(The way this ARC was posted was so neat! It came wrapped in twine with the paper flower in the middle and made quite a talking point for whoever saw it!)

What I thought:
It was not until I was very nearly finished that I knew without a doubt that I was definitely reminded of The Maze Runner when I read this, just it had more people and htey were all glad to be where they were.
I had briefed the idea fairly early on- there are similarities throughout that felt familiar- but when there came a really unfortunate seeming and very spoilery sucession of words very close to the end there wasn't really any going back, and as different in many other ways as the books are I don't know that I'll ever be able tot think of this as anything but "The Maze Runner where people were happy".

It was very readable, though, and from the get go I was intrigued. I hadn't heard of the book before and decided not to read more of the back cover than the words "creepy", which made it a really interesting experience, going in completely blank- and I was perplexed, too, because the creepy-ness did take a fair while to come into the story, though the anticipation for it was actually fantastic. I couldn't stop wondering how the idyllic paradise in which these 100 teens were living would be suddenly changed, and when it came it was the kind of creepy that is slow. You don't even think it is creepy, not at first.

The setting was really interesting for me, too- where could the place these people are be? I was taken in by their day to day life, lernt the rules they had to abide by with interest and internally grimaced at the very, very, awkward names boobs and male genitalia were given- I actually have no idea why the names were changed, now on the other side of the story and knowing everything, but it was disconcerting, to say the very least.

Wren, as the protagonist, went through a pretty massive transformation: from the carefree, happy girl who loves the life Dot has given her to a girl afraid and anguished by the strain of feeling like she's somehow upset her creator and is terrified of what that means for her, and it really a believable journey, though I have to say I did miss the joy that shone through from Wren in the very first chapters more than once. I felt a sense the deeper I delved into the story, as if I too was leaving the bright, sun filled carefree life I'd led before, just like her. I was, however, not truly attached to her or any of the other characters, though many held aspects that were possessed really wonderfully, and the scenes in which they truly lit those aspects up were beautiful ones for Wren, Blaze and Fern.
Wren's narrative was very much one full of multiple words to try and multiply the expressive point of a single thing, with lots of "totally"s, "seriously"s and "obviously"s, and whilst a lot of the time it fit her character and all kept up the flow of her storytelling, more than a couple of times it got to be a little too much for me.

I was lucky enough to be provided with an ARC to review, and as such it had a few spelling mistakes and the like, but I would also hope that the number of people in paradise would be lowerd in the final publication, from 100 to fifty, because we met perhaps 10 of those people and I could never believe there were more than even 40. The writing and description made me feel like it was so many less.
There was also a pretty spoilery thing with a name, and it really took away from the story for me, felt so easily explained away. I could've liked the story a level or two more without that coming in altogether.

So whilst it did feel like Maze Runner in some really important ways, and I never was truly in the story, it was enjoyable for the most part, and exciting.
I could believe it might be real, for sure.