Friday, May 27, 2016

Plotting a takeover: Character Buys 9.

A not so regular feature in which I pick a book and then pick out things I think the character/s themselves would own/use or just really like. This week the featured book is...

One of my current WIPs, "B".
(I have never before done a Character Buys post on one of my own characters, so it's thrilling and bizarre and I am going to be giving away only little bits about the story and character. You can read a little about "B" on my About me + My stories page.)
Focusing on A. The protagonist.

Flowers are a reasonably large part of this dystopic-fantasy I've written, and A often takes the time to think about them, gaze at them. They have a larger meaning. Wild flowers are prevalent where ever they can thrive and flourish without being torn up. In the secret, unwatched places.

Photographs, memories, still frames of life- they're all very important to A. They are moments that can never be taken, never be stolen. This camera is practically perfect to what I imagined.

If A ever had the chance to get a tattoo, a chance that I think would be leapt at- whether it be in that world or this- it would be of a tree. Either along the forearm or on the shoulder blade.

Being set primarily in a forest, finding edible, non poisonous substances is rather important sub-element of this story. A mushroom chart would have been greatly appreciated by all. In a home (in a different time) A (and many of the other characters) would have loved this.

Trees would completely fill A's home, as you will continue to notice. Plants, sculptures, artwork. This print has that gorgeous, misty morning feel of walking through a forest that I feel certain A would treasure.

A doesn't know a whole lot about plants, herbs, edible things, so this (coupled with that mushroom print) would be so perfect. A guide to eating, cooking, and not being poisoned with the next bite.

I... won't say a whole lot about this one. Trees, books, paper, all of them are very important to A, both in the past and the present. Also this is lovely.

Particularly in the first book (which I've just finished an edit of) trust is an incredibly important element, both to the plot and to the characters (particularly A). It's something that is difficult- near impossible- to obtain, and yet sought. Something that is sought, yet almost impossible to feel.

Boots. Old, sturdy (and a little bit gorgeous, because of both those facts), well worn, are an absolute necessity. I can't quite decide which A would prefer, a short pair or a tall pair. Probably both, if the choice was offered up.

Both these and the above, they feel utterly perfect, as if I've seen something from my imagination come alive. I can imagine my whole little band of humans wearing these, wearing them every single day and being utterly perfect.

A good portion of the novel takes place in a forest, and thus I feel certain that A would have tree decals (in addition to everything else) as way of bringing nature into the home, of remembering the beauty of the wilderness even when it can't be seen.

The moon, like flowers, is a constant source of inspiration, beauty and wonder for A. Only, it can't be exterminated, at least not in this world.

That's it! I always have a marvellous time, compiling these posts, and I hope you enjoyed seeing into one of my characters (and possibly the one that has the most meaning to me) and their personality.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon...

Publish date- 2013
Publisher- Bloomsbury.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
In an unrecognisable London, Clairvoyant Paige Mahoney is pulled from the life she knew, a life of secrecy and friends that feel like family, of learning more about her talents and dodging the authorities, into an equally unrecognisable world. Oxford. Ruled by creatures that use their powers as a weapon.

What I thought:
The Bone Season was beautiful.

I admit, despite buying a copy after reading two gorgeous reviews last year, I was a bit hesitant. When the initial buzz for it took over many reviewers hearts, I didn't take a whole lot of notice. I wasn't, apparently, particularly... interested. Fast forward a couple of years and I was at the stage where I was about to (finally) start reading.

It isn't a massive book, so I wasn't daunted. But the font in my edition was tiny, so I absolutely was.

The initial question I had, that stayed with me for 20, 30 pages perhaps, was something along the lines of When will I comprehend, because Sicon London isn't like any form of London I have ever seen, read, or envisioned. There were terms I didn't understand (many) and the roles of the characters in Paige's group took a little getting used to, but then... my brief moments of confusion didn't matter.

I was in.

To put it poetically, the gates of this novel, gates that hid secrets and truths and utter majesty in writing, they opened up wide and let me in, and it was completely different after that. 
Less poetically, the book had finally won me over. I was captivated. I was interested. And I was continually surprised.

Surprise and interest are, I think, actually two of this book's greatest assets. It is so well developed a story and gives the reader time to start computing this new, slightly despotic and slightly fantasy-angled (and also throughly fantastic) world you are reading about before the plot takes over, which was so wonderful. I felt like I already knew Paige before everything started turning upside down, and that meant I cared about her.

Paige was a fairly likable character, and when she is pulled out of London and taken with a load of other clairvoyants by creatures that look like humans but are far more ethereal. She didn' give up. I don't think she stopped fighting once. Sometimes this caused trouble for the people she formed bonds with, and the way she didn't think about the danger her every action could cause others did frustrate me at times, but she was also very caring and invested in her own freedom and the freedom of everyone else, and for that I liked her.

Rating: Excellent.
This is a well, throughly crafted novel, and I was completely taken in by the world and the characters (there's a lovely, subtle romance involving an interested side party, who then becomes... a friend. It's lovely. I liked it so much) and I actually plan on reading the sequel in time for the next book. I enjoyed it so much.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Six favourites for six years.

So this is my sixth year of being a book blogger, and whereas last year I was all the terror at having five years under my proverbial belt, I have transformed into someone cool, calm and collected.

Right about now the hysterical, disbelieving laughter can set in.

But I digress. Six years. Many reviews written and many more books read. Over these six years I have discovered more new favourites than at any other point during my life, and I thought it might be interesting for me to look over my shelf, scout through my reviews, and see which are the six definitive favourites. As I write this, I still have no idea what they'll be, except for last year's read which I actually remember, and I'm both daunted- what if I have NO FAVOURITES AT ALL- and excited- I get to relive the favourites! and take pretty pictures!- so, without further ado, let me go back in time and show you my all time favourite reads through six years of blogging.


There were so few books to choose from, in my first year, since it was only in the last couple of months that I started blogging and recording the books I had read in my goodreads account. Pride and Prejudice was, apparently, something I only read six years ago! I enjoyed it so much, and went through the whole Darcy is a horrible mess I loathe him thing. Just like Lizzie. 
Featuring other favourites from 2010- the runner up was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I cried. Which never happens in books.

No matter how much I might adore Dodie Smith's incredible I Capture the Castle, this was the summer I read My Family and Other Animals and I have never read a book I loved quite so much. This is actually my all time favourite book. 

My runner up for this year was Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (which I always talk about because KAMI), but I've actually artified my copy. So it isn't featured. I'm not quite sure why I chose Catching Fire over His Dark Materials, since I love them with all my heart- I think it had more of a solid impact on me at the time, even if I might prefer the former these days. It's my favourite out of all the Hunger Games books- I read them all between January-February '12- and it could be because of the setting (something really captivated me about the island) or because of Finnick, who happens to be my favourite character in the series.


Possibly the hardest choice, because the four books pictured below are some of my all time favourites and it feels slightly impossibly to say I like one most of all. I do. But still. The whole Fairyland series is one of my all time favourite series of ever, and although I adore the first book with every inch of my person, The Princess Bride means so, so much to me, so- as a singular book- it wins out.


The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (and how I adore those long titles) might just be my favourite book in the Fairyland series, because although it does severely lack two of the major side characters, September goes through such a struggle and yet she's still gorgeous and lovely and the ending was ruining and fabulous. Wandering Son is another intent favourite, because although the series has started moving in a direction I'm not wholly invested in, the first volume... it was just stunning.


So, when I read Dumplin' late last year, I finished it and knew that it was the best book I had read that whole year. And that was so exciting and wonderful and... a couple weeks later I read a book called Kitchen that had been on my tbr for years and it was incredible and became one of my favourite books of all time, let alone just in that year. 

Well, I've read four five star books this year, and my favourite so far is Ash which, I believe, is also going to grow to become an all time favourite. But we'll see what else the year brings out.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo...

Publish date-2013.
Publisher- Orion Books.

Review time...

*This review has spoilers for the first book in the series, Shadow and Bone*

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Something dark is brewing, and Alina, with the power to command and produce light at her very fingertips, has become a martyr to the people. The Darkling is out there, and he is coming, and she must be ready.

What I thought:
At the beginning of the year, I read Shadow and Bone, and, although I did enjoy it, it certainly wasn't all I had hoped for. Still, I already owned a copy of the sequel (and a gorgeous edition at that; the covers in this series are really lovely) and a few months after that (around the time I posted my review) I started reading this, the sequel.

And I liked it.

Unfortunately, though, I didn't feel that way for a long time. It was a fairly slow going read for me, and when I finally felt like I got a hold of the direction the story was going in, understanding the new characters and starting to rather like some of them (hello, Sturmhond), I suddenly found myself... perplexed. At the end of Shadow and Bone you get a sense that the plot is going in a particular direction, and for less than thirty pages. And it didn't really feel like there was a whole lot of point in having Mal and Alina hideout, only to, well, get found. Within twenty pages. But still, the inevitable was the inevitable and it brought forth an array of new faces (again, hello, Sturmhond) and yet: with the reappearance of the Darkling, with the interaction between him and Alina, I felt as if things had gone backwards and everyone had let their hatred for eachother become a little bit dulled. No one seemed like they particularly wanted vengeance, and things went along plesantly enough, opposing sides getting along quite well, it seemed.

In retrospect, I feel like I can break Siege and Storm up into a lot of little sections, all of which are distinct from the other plot arcs of the novel. And sadly, I feel like they never really melded together completely, so I see them as disjointed sections rather than a whole. Training, running. Conversations, romances. Fights, kisses. It felt to me as if there were a couple of different plot arcs here, and they didn't quite fit- almost, but not quite. Add to that the fact that the characters frustrated me, their behaviour almost unbelievable at times (hello, Mal. Hello. You have not once failed to amaze me.), and although Alina was admittedly a little better at standing up for herself, someone in her position... I think it was her weakness that she wasn't strong. Her emotions clouded her, her insecurity, and while those factors made her human and should have made her relatable, it merely frustrated me that she took so long to get her act together and separate her feelings from her work, or even bring the two together and make it a stable foundation. Instead she pined and whined and got carried away, and I was left giving her much side eye.

Rating: Oh noooooo.
I had really high hopes for this series, but it seems like it just isn't for me. Which is okay. I still love the covers, and I still enjoyed most of the first book, and I still like the Darkling and Sturmhond. But I know I won't be reading Ruin and Rising, and I know that's okay, too. Some series we just don't need to finish.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Books for when you're... (21)

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 to suit a certain mood.

Wanting a character with witty comebacks.
Personally, I love them, and witty characters make me feel like oneday *I* might be able to be as witty and remarkable as them. It hasn't worked so far, but I've enjoyed meeting these characters enormously, and they're some of my favourites.

Back when I actually did features regularly? Kami was fairly well a permanent fixture. With her wit, sass and need to know the truth, Kami inspired me endlessly. She has a wardrobe to be swooned for, with kitten heels and an array of dresses in patterns that made me... well, swoon. In fact, she may well have been my first true bookish crush. And she had a comeback for almost every situation, and each and every one of them would make me smile and internally cheer. See, who else could throw a rock at a window, acidentally send it through said window (with glass going everywhere) and then make you see that it wasn't actually *her* fault?
No one, I tell you. Kami is completely unique in her ability to make you see reason and realise when you, in fact, are the one at fault.

I think Ginny has featured on a lot of my lists, also, but that's because a. she is just so darn great, and b. I like her a lot. She's a secondary character who has a lot of character depth and I love exploring that. Each time I do, I find out just how much I love her.
As for wit, Ginny is quite possibly my favourite in this series for it. Harry can be pretty good, too, but overall I think she triumphs. Ginny was always a character I loved because she was accepted, and when she wasn't she fought until people saw her way, and whilst that wasn't always achieved by wit, her conversations, comments and general communication always made sense to me. She could (and did) tell Harry that he was being an idiot a good few times, and she would be right at the same time as making me smirk, because of the way she said it. I'm not quite sure that anyone else could say it like it was like Ginny could.

My last Books for when you're... topic was Wanting to learn a new activity. It featured Host Clubs and Poisoners. The obvious choices.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

From me to you and back again -6-

-This is where I talk about something. Something that comes to mind and sticks there and I want to describe so that it sticks in other peoples minds and makes them think, because that is what this is about. I want to be thinking. I want to be lit up and even alight. And I want you to leave this post with the memory of the thoughts it made you have.-

. On seasons and an incapability to read seasonal books .

I recently realised that it isn't the beginning of March that makes me feel like Autumn has arrived, or that Summer officially begins when I wake on the first December morning. The seasons in Australia have been a little off-kilter for a couple years now, and where during childhood there was this sense that each season was impossibly of itself and was easily distinguishable, now... that doesn't seem so certain.

I feel like it's Winter when, mid-March, I'm stacking firewood. I feel like it's Spring when, mid January, we have a wet day and the grass is succulent and green and warm afterwards.
I'm very confused when, mid Winter, we get snow. But last year was a weird year for weather, so I'll let that one go.

It's the memories that can make what I might do on a wet, blustry day in April feel like the depths of Winter. Thunderstorms, bigger than I had ever experienced, gorgeous and wild and terrifying, momentous in ways that were enchanting and memorable, allowed a little part of myself to beileve Winter had come and hot chocolate was the only thing I could possibly drink and doonas the only thing I could possibly wrap about myself, even though was February. And also not that cold.

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain, and I stayed in bed for longer than I have in a while, reading and pretending and rather enjoying myself with a pantomime of near Winter (which, I mean, is what it actually is but beside the point beside the point beside the point). The sky is omnious and grey and the trees have been swaying and my room is vastly cold. Cups of tea have been cosumed and baby dogs have slept beside me (and on top of me because personal space is not something Kasta cares to understand and I love her for it).

And then it comes to books. I love the idea of reading seasonal books in accurate time, books set around christmas or halloween or a dead Winter night, but I am only organised to such a level, and it doesn't extend to my reading, no matter how much I may try to have it be another way. I'm more likely to read the frosty His Dark Materials during the heat of Summer than Winter, and I can read Agatha Christie during the whole year only avoid her when it comes to the end of October. I have a beloved Christmas read that I have only read leading up to christmas once and it was an experience of drudgery and boredom.

Because that's it, for me- or I think it is. It doesn't matter if it's Summer, because if I do something that reminds me of another season then that's where I am. After a time maybe all the seasons will just become a year, a year of blended heat and frost and rain and fog, and it'll be my memories that lead me. The things I did at another time that tell me how I'll spend my day. It'll be what I want to read that makes me pick up my next book.

So: what makes a season a season for you? And have you achieved the miraculous and read seasonal books during their "season"?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Review: Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall...

Publish date- January 2016.
Publisher- Text Publishing.
RRP- $19.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
When her greedy parents send Iris to spend time in Spain with her aunt, they have plans. They send Iris expecting she will get in her aunt's favour and come back with an inheritance insured. But Iris will be facing much more than a single, meek aunt on her trip. She will face bizzare, surreal- alive?- paintings, wild things that creep through the house and the huge, magical harden, and an aunt who has much more to her than Iris could believe.

Thank you to Text Publishing for this review copy!
Image source: Text Publishing.

What I thought:
Leanne Hall is one of my favourite authors. Her work is unique in a way that is unique, and it captivates me. It holds me fast and never does has it failed to fire up my imagination and make me wonder about the world I live in. Her debut in YA, This is Shyness, is one of my most loved books, and the sequel took the world of Shyness into a whole new direction. I still hope that one day I'll be able to go back to that world, but when I heard of Iris and the Tiger, a MG novel that looked and sounded gorgeously, perfectly fantastical, I felt alright with the idea of waiting.

Iris caught me off guard. I've tried to verbally express my feelings on it a couple of times now and have failed considerably, because I feel a lot about it, and it is special, and confusing, wonderous and odd.

I liked it a lot.

Bosque de Nubes, the house Iris goes to stay at for a week, was a wildly strange place, full to brimming with character and paintings by Iris's famous uncle, all of them fascinating and described in perfect detail, not that I couldn't have heard about more of them, they were so interesting.
As I read, I really did feel as if I was in another world, so I was startled, every time, when texting and selfies and other very modern day things were mentioned. That, really, was the aspect I struggled with- adapting a story so fantastical to the modern world. I didn't do a very good job at it, ignoring the truth as best I could only to be rudely bought back to the present again and again. Iris was also a little difficult to work with, on occassion, because her nature was... a little whiney, at times, although I still rather liked her throughout. As a character she really does struggle with asserting herself, especially against her awful parents, and she is also dealing and the changing of friendships at school back home, which meant, when it happened, it was so good to see her, this young, slightly insecure girl, grow past bonds that dictated the way she feel and live. And I mean, having the added fantasy of paintings coming to life and magic and cars that are alive and flowers playing tennis, and a couple of new friends along the sidelines, it all helps to make this a throughly enjoyable, perfectly strange book.

Rating: Ooh, very good.
I really enjoyed this. Leanne Hall writes strangeness in the real world so well and her characters are all unique and distinct. I did struggle with the fact this was so clearly set in a world I know, although I suppose I should feel more love for it because of that factor, and Iris wasn't always the easiest protagonist to work with, but overall it was a success. I will wait patiently for Leanne Hall's next novel.