Monday, April 22, 2013

Books for when you're... (6)



Each fortnight 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.



Books for when you want to have a fictional friend (part 1).
Life can be awful. Fiction can be awful, too, but that's beside the point- having a book in which you are able to really connect with a character is an incredible feeling, and being able to say you feel like you would be best friends, already are, is something I adore.


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
Why I chose this book:
Cassandra, the protagonist, is a character I immediately felt passionate about- she is witty, amusing, strong, compassionate and loves without hesitation. She is one of my favourite heroines and I can see us getting alone very well indeed.


Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.
Why I chose this book:
Prepare to be inundated by Unspoken/Kami Glass appearing in these posts, because she is featured heavily in the next few. Kami is just so fantastic and I get incredibly happy/excited when I think/talk/write about her- she and I are fairly similar, but I don't know if that's why I immediately loved her so strongly. She is incredibly strong and brave, a little headstrong at times, has a taste in fashion that makes me swoon, has amazing dialouge and is just "The best" in all the things. She is a friend one would make and keep forever, and she wouldn't let you be lost, either.


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

Friday, April 19, 2013

Here and Now by J. M. Coetzee and Paul Auster.

Title- Here and Now.
Author- J. M. Coetzee & Paul Auster.
Publish date- March 2013.
Publisher- Allen and Unwin. (Imprint: Faber)

(Goodreads)

Review...



What I thought:
One of my main thoughts about reading this as a review copy was that I felt a little rushed reading it- if I bought myself a copy I would read a few pages every few days, read the whole thing over the course of a few months, because I felt it was a book I would have loved to savour more than I felt I did.

I am a lover of letter compilations- I don't know when it began or why I have such a passion for them, but I cannot deny that letters compiled into book form are one of my favourite things, and I very much enjoyed this collection, perhaps a little more than I expected-
The letters between J. M. Coetzee and Paul Auster were wonderful- I didn't read the entirety of all the letters, but I felt that was okay and I really enjoyed reading about their thoughts on people, books, films and travel- they ocassionally mentioned their own, and each others books, which was always something I enjoyed, and at one point one of the men went to see the film adaptation of the other's book (I can't quite recall whether it was Coetzee or Auster, I think Auster) and that was really interesting, seeing his thoughts on it after having heard that it wasn't very good (from the author of the adapted work).

The correspondence begins as being letters sent from America to Australia and vice versa, but gradually they begin adding notes in emails and faxing in addition, so reading about that gradual transition was really interesting.
I found fairly quickly that I had a preference for the letters sent by Coetzee, though I can't say why they attracted me.

Overall I did really enjoy Here and Now- it goes without saying that I didn't find myself fully enjoying each letter and, as I say, I skipped sections when I found they didn't appeal to me, but overall my enjoyment went up the longer I read. I would definitely recommend this to readers of the authors work or those who enjoy letter collections.

Rating: Ooh, very good-
I really enjoyed this- I would recommend it and only feel I could have imporved my enjoyment if I could have taken a little longer to read it. I haven't read any of either authors work yet, but this has made me keen to, more so than previously, and I hope that is something I accomplish this year.


Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington...

Title- Between the Lives.
Author- Jessica Shirvington.
Publish date- April 22nd 2013.
Publisher- Harper Collins (Australia).

(Goodreads)

Review...


What I thought:
The main word that comes to me when I think about this book, at least the main non-spoilerly word, is "intriguing", and it was a word that fairly well summed up my thoughts on it before I read it and, though in a lesser way, after.
The premise of Between the Lines is, taken right back to basics, this: a girl has lived two lives, one middle class, one wealthy (both in the same city)- ever since she can remember. She doesn't know how to make it stop, which is all she has ever wanted. But when she breaks her arm and it doesn't transfer to the other world she starts to wonder and test the link. Also there's romance. 

I love the idea of someone living two lives and I saw it pitched as her living a "Cinderella existance" somewhere, which really excited me, but it isn't something I would suggest getting your hopes up about because I did not see it (she's not poor in her less wealthy life, just average middle class) and was left waiting for some kind of Cinderella link to appear for the first third of the book.

I had quite a few problems with the characters and never particularly liked any-
Sabine is the protagonist; she is desperate, from the off, to cut away one of her lives and I immediately assumed which one it was and was shocked to see how wrong I was, because her actual choice didn't make any sense.
She doesn't get along well with her parents in her less wealthy life, but she has a really great friend in Capri (who was in the story hardly at all and felt like a character of convienence more than anything, not being built upon and coming in once when Sabine needed help, but really being a pretty vacant piece, which disappointed me) and lives for her little sister, Maddy, and in her wealthy life she has everything she could want, yet never seems happy. She is just doing things, even if she doesn't like them, because she has a reputation to keep (something she repeats on numerous ocassions).
I felt that Sabine was a pretty vapid character and she never clicked with me. I didn't outright dislike her, but she was a little whiney at times and I disliked her harsh, on the spot judgement.

Ethan is essentially the only other main character, apart from Dex who despite being a fundamental character to the storyline never really got much of an explaination and seemed very one dimensional.
 I found Ethan pretty frustrating, too- he and Sabine gradually see each other in a new (and cliche ridden) light, but I found them to be tiresome, full of predictable and potentially swoony and sweet but for me only cringworthy dialouge when they're together, but never really saying anything really important.

I thought the storyline would have much more of an impact on me than it did- for me it was very much a medioca read, easy going for the most part but with a few scenes that just really made me force myself to continue reading, some just because they were eye-roll inducing and some because they were pretty darkly awful (see below).

One of my main problems with the book is a scene where Sabine is "testing" what will travel through the worlds after her arm got broken in one world and was fine in the other. She gets a variaty of sharp utensils and, sitting in her room, begins to cut herself; it was fairly detailed and lasted two or three pages, and I absolutely hated it. Okay, maybe it was the only way of testing the connection, but I wish it didn't last that long, wasn't in such great detail. It really annoyed/unsettled me and I considered stopping there.

I thought the ending was pretty forseeable, for the most part, and I really didn't get anything from it, though I did find myself surprised during a few scenes towards the end, but because I never really connected with the characters or felt like I was truly invested with their stories by that time it didn't feel all that important to me what happened to them.

Despite the things that riled me there were a few things I did really appreciate about the story- I loved the relationship, however brief, between Maddy and Sabine; it was very sweet and felt like one of the real-est things in the book.
I appreciated being able to feel hooked in some of the more intense scenes, where something exciting or terrible or whatnot would happen and then BAM Sabine would switch in to a different life and I had to wait anxiously to find out what would happen. It happened perhaps a few too many times for my liking, but I generally did like this- it made the novel very fast paced and kept me going.

Between the Lives is certainly not what I hoped it would be, is very much a case in which I think it had great potential that, at leats for me, it never quite lived up to; a strange mix of light, easy going reading (clothes shopping, trying on clothes, eating delicious food, wearing pretty dresses, wearing pretty dessses for parties, lots of costume changes) to being dark and the polar opposite (drugs- stealing drugs, hiding drugs, taking drugs- and other harder issues) and yet, despite that massive transition in either world Sabine lived in, I never felt like it was necessary. Sabine chose to do what she did, for the majority, and she could have done things differently and been happy.

Rating: Poor.
Throughout the book I found myself picking up on a lot of little things I didn't like, which made it a difficult read for me; it was fairly easy and not wholly unenjoyable, but I wouldn't re-read it and often wondered if I should persist. In a few words it is Darkly Fluffy.


Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me this review ARC!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Get to know a blogger {5} Judith from Paper Riot.


{Get to know a blogger is a new feature I'm hosting on my blog during 2013- every fortnight, if I can, I will be posting a Q&A with a blogger, and together we can get to know just a little of the awesomeness that surrounds those in the blogging community. I think it's going to be fun.}

This week I'm featuring Judith from Paper Riot.

*Describe yourself in 10 words or less.
Story lover. Storyteller. Daydreamer. Crafter. Night person. Procrastinator. Sarcasm appreciator.

*Describe your blog in 5 words.
I hope to be creative.

*Has blogging changed anything about you?
Blogging has changed the way I read, mostly!  I’ve always been a reader, but I’ve been reading more than ever since I started blogging. Obviously, this has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve discovered lots of new books since I started blogging.

*Please describe the awesomeness of blogging in three words. (Hyphen’s may be used to cheat.)
BLOGGERS ARE AMAZEBALLS!
(thanks Kelly for teaching me this word!)

*What author/book/both have you found since you started to blog, that you can’t get enough of?
Currently I’m obsessed with Vampire Academy. Seriously, why had I never read this series before?! It’s definitely one of my favorites now.

*What is one thing that people might not know about you?
I’m a grammar freak. In fact, I’m that annoying person that always corrects you when you make a mistake! I don’t think I’ve let this side of me take over my blogging, since, well, I blog in English. I am Dutch. Somehow, I don’t feel like I have the right to correct people in their own language. And mostly, I doubt my own English skills. I’m well aware that my English may not be perfect. PLEASE correct me – always. I’d appreciate it, haha.

*What is the first book you truly loved. Like Darcy and Lizzie LOVE.
Harry Potter. I had loved books before (my favorite children’s books like the Olijke Tweeling series and De Brief voor de Koning – hi Dutch books – and early teen faves like The Sisterhood and 13 Little Blue Envelopes), but never as much as HP. This love, this is unconditional, you guys. Forever and always and all that jazz.

*What fictional character do you think most resembles you?
I don’t think that there is a character I feel 100% resembles me, but I have never related to a character more than to Allyson from Just One Day. This is part personality, but an even bigger part life. Allyson is a freshman in college and basically, has a hard time. This isn’t just about the college thing, but about trying to find herself and trying to feel safe in the world. Her growth is one I most admire, and one I hope to accomplish myself one day. Sorry for the dramarama.


Thank you so much, Judith- the awesomeness is strong in you.

Follow Judith (everywhere)-

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday (5) Books I read before I was a blogger.



Top ten tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish where the people of the blogverse do some spotlighting in groups of ten, ocassionally (*ahem* often *ahem*) pushing the rules to the limits. In the best ways.

This week it's all about favourite books you read before you became a blogger- I have been reading so much more and such a wider range of genres since I started blogging, but I did read quite a lot before, too, so I don't think I'll have a problem. (These are in no particular order, mind.)

1. The Spiderwick Chronicles-
This is a series that my siblings and mother read, too, and it was incredibly exciting getting the next book and reading it in a matter of days. I love the imagination and the creatures in the series, and it has stayed in my mind for years since I first read the books.

2. The Inkworld Trilogy-
This would be the first large book I ever read- I bought the first two books when I saw them in a bookshop and they sounded incredible, they cost a lot and I felt like such a spendthrift but was so gloriously happy and reading the series was wonderous.

3. Pippi Longstockings-
I read this for the first time when I was about 12, and had grown up seeing a video movie of it which I LOVED, and the book was just as amazing and exciting.

4. I Capture the Castle-
I'm pretty sure I read this just before I started blogging, and I adored it so much. It's one of my top ten favourite books of all time and I just love the feel of it, the plot, the characters, especially Cassandra.

5. Anne of Green Gables-
The first "Classic" I read and it is such a magnificent book and I was immediately in love with the characters, particularly Anne, in whom I see a little of myself.

6. Moving Castle Series-
I love everything about this series- from Howl to Sophie to Calcifer to Howl to Sophie to the castle to the magic to Howl to Sophie to the seven league boots to Howl to Sophie.

7. Tashi-
These books were a fundamental part of my growing up and I read them alongside my brother and sister, and they were kind of a thing that was passed down through us.

8. Pride and Prejudice-
I must have read this the summer before I became a blogger and I'm so happy- it's about time I re-read it, especially with the Lizzie Bennet Diaries having ended and killed me with the feels.

9. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone-
I listened to them all on audio/my mother read them to my siblings and I as I grew up, but I think I was perhaps 11 (!) when I read the first book myself. I was a little mocked because it took me about 8 months to get through, as it was one of my first forays into that kind of reading, and I wasn't a huge reader at the time, but I got through it and loved it.

10. Lauren Child books-
Lauren Child- from her stand alone picture books to Clairce Bean to Charlie and Lola, I just adore most everything she does.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Get to know a blogger {4} Sam from Realm of Fiction.


{Get to know a blogger is a new feature I'm hosting on my blog during 2013- every fortnight, if I can, I will be posting a Q&A with a blogger, and together we can get to know just a little of the awesomeness that surrounds those in the blogging community. I think it's going to be fun.}

Today I will be featuring Sam from Realm of Fiction.

*Describe yourself in 10 words or less.
Reader, blogger, Londonder, and supporter of all things Young Adult.

*Has blogging changed anything about you?
Plenty! I’m a lot more organised now than I was before. Blogging, for me, requires a lot of carefully-planned juggling and time management, and so these aspects have slowly seeped into my every-day habits. My confidence has improved, as has my writing. But the obvious difference is in my reading habits. Before blogging, I restricted myself to only a few select genres (convinced that I would never, ever like anything else), but now I enjoy a whole range of things. If it wasn’t for the blogging community, I’d still probably be reading paranormal romance after paranormal romance.

*Please describe the awesomeness of blogging in three words. (Hyphen’s may be used to cheat.)
Awesome-like-cake
Will-give-you-smile-lines (in a good way!)
Rewarding!

*What author/book/both have you found since you started to blog, that you can’t get enough of?
There are probably several, but the first that jumps to mind is Lucy Christopher’s Stolen. I hadn’t even known of this book’s existence before blogging, but, thanks to a few persistent and persuasive friends, it made its way onto my radar fairly quickly. I was lucky enough to win a copy soon after (from another blogger, no less!) and read it and fell in love with it immediately. It still haunts my thoughts. On a side note, I’m really looking forward to Christopher’s latest book, The Killing Woods, which is releasing this September!

*What is one thing that people might not know about you?
I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. Though I think some people may know this already! If I had to rank my Favourite Things in order (after family and all that boring stuff), Doctor Who would come in second place, right after Harry Potter. I probably shouldn’t admit this in public, but I even have a Tardis wardrobe…

*What is the first book you truly loved. Like Darcy and Lizzie LOVE.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It’s the first book that I remember reading all the way through (by myself!) and loving. I’m sure there were more before that, but this is the first book to truly leave an impression on me. I haven’t read it in years, admittedly, and may even react differently to it now, but I loved it at the time. It was my introduction to fantasy and when I first realised I could lose myself in a fictional world.

*What fictional character do you think most resembles you?
There isn’t any one character that resembles me completely, but I have come across several that have aspects of me in them. The most recent of these is Addie Coleman from Kasie West’s Pivot Point. She’s a lot cooler than I am, but I share her sense of humour and love for books and order. Ten years younger, and I’d say Anne from Anne of Green Gables.Although I am nothing like her at the moment, we once shared the same inquisitive mind. 

Thank you so much for your awesome answers, Sam! I loved having you take part.

Follow Sam (everywhere)-

Friday, April 5, 2013

STUNG Blog Tour: Guest Post by Bethany Wiggins.



Today I am lucky enough to be taking part in the Stung blog tour, and I had the chance to ask author Bethany Wiggins a question, namely Inspiration to write- what things help the writing process when you're in a slump, and now she's going to talk... or write... about that- lets go!

---

A common misconception about published writers is that they don't get writer's block. I WISH! Do you know how easy life would be if I knew exactly what I wanted to write? REALLY EASY! 

I was asked if I have any tips to help the writing process when you're in a slump. Because, seriously, being trapped in your own writing, with a tiny view of the story ahead but no way to get there, is miserable! Sort of like being all dressed up with nowhere to go. Or driving somewhere with a map that's missing just a few pieces, so although you're close to your destination, you can't quite find it. That is frustrating to the point of pulling out hair. So here are a few tips that have worked for me.

TIP #1: If you're not clear on your vision, how are you going to write it? And I'm not necessarily talking about the end of the story. Just the next three, five, ten pages. If you can't decide where your story needs to go in the next few pages, then you can't sit down and write it. So, skip that part for now. Write the part you do know, and then you can fill in the missing pieces. 

TIP #2: Get your ipod, download music that fits your story, and then go on a nice long walk. Even if it's on the treadmill. If you're like me, with music in your head, no distractions, and your body moving . . . the story will start to flow.

TIP #3: I cannot tell you how many times I start a story (like Stung, for example), and know just how it is going to end, but have no idea how to fill the hundred pages that go in between the beginning hundred pages, and the ending hundred pages. That is when I tell my husband the beginning and ending, and we brainstorm together. My husband thinks very differently than I do, so a lot of what he says is something I never would have thought of, and it gets me asking the why's about my story. Why would this character act that way? Why would that character want her dead? Why would this character risk his life for that one? Why does he hate her so much?Talk to someone about your story.

TIP #4: Sometimes you may just need a little break to give your story time to grow, ferment, and germinate. I thoroughly believe writing is like cheese. The longer a story has to sit and ripen, the stronger it becomes.

TIP #5: Spend time every day on the computer. WRITING, mind you, not playing on Facebook or bejeweled blitz. Even if all you're writing is blog posts. Or character bios. Just get in the habit.

TIP #6: Don't worry about typos, plot, prose, because all of those can be fixed. That's the beauty of writing--you can change anything and everything. It just has to be written first.



Thank you so much for taking the time to talk/write about keeping inspired, Bethany- quite a few of your tips are things I currently try to do, and the rest are certainly ones I plan to start!
Now, links to find Bethany and Stung!



Find Bethany online-

Find Stung online-

And now we're all done- I hope you enjoyed the post, and be sure to check out the other amazing stops on the blog tour here! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday... on a thursday. (4) Characters I fancy a LOT.



Top ten tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish where the people of the blogverse do some spotlighting in groups of ten, ocassionally (*ahem* often *ahem*) pushing the rules to the limits. In the best ways.

This week I am back, and all thanks to the incredible Alexandra from Alexandra's Scribblings who is very persuasive. Thank you Alexandra!

I have so many characters that I fancy quite a lot, but it's a big mix of females and males, so I'm doing five of each.

The Males.
1. Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games books.
-- I don't think I trusted him at first, but from the moment I read about that sugar cube I couldn't help but be lost to Finnick- there was no going back when he posed provocatively in his underwear.

2. Howl from Howls Moving Castle.
-- annoying as he can be for that very reason most of the time, Howl has a quality I can't describe but can't get enough of. It would be wrong to fight off the smile that comes to my lips every time I read something said by/about him.

3. William Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.
--I can see a trend- I apparently really like characters who are frustrating and annoying but who have many layers. Like onions.

4. Augustus Waters from TFiOS.
-- he has amazing one liners, says the most beautiful things to Hazel and about life, and I just love that guy to pieces.

5. Fred and George Weasley from The Harry Potter books.
-- oh my, don't even get me started on these two.
Honorable mentions go to Dora from Inkdeath for being the first character to make me go swoony, and to Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games books- I like me some baker, but Finnick wins the competition everyday in my eyes. Also Jared Lynburn from Unspoken because I really like you, but you are an arse.

The Females.
1. Luna Lovegood from The Harry Potter books.
-- both in the books and out of them, there are so many people who don't seem to see Luna as being much more than Loony, and maybe it's just because I'm apparently quite like her in looks and personality, but I love her uniqueness and imagination and clothing.

2. Kami Glass from Unspoken.
-- ALEXANDRA! See what you've done to me? I got super excited to read this after reading this amazing review and swooning over the clothes in this post,  I began to read my copy of Unspoken and practically turn incomprehensible whenever I think/talk of her. She is the BEST.

3. Sophie Hatter from Howls Moving Castle.
-- I would never part Sophie and Howl, but they are both characters I adore so much and over whom I seriously crush. All the time.

4. Lyra Balaqua from His Dark Materials. 
-- I was a little unsure if Lyra quite fit this list, but decided she did- I don't know if it is a good thing that I share very similar personalities with a lot of these characters, and it is certainly the case with Miss Lyra. She's strong and speaks her mind and I just love her power, and those are some very crush-worthy aspects of someone.

5. Annie Cresta/Johanna Mason from The Hunger Games series. 
-- I love these characters so much and am dearly and very fondly in love with both of them, and I admire them both intensely.

Honurable mentiones go to Ginny Weasley from The Harry Potter books, to Min from Why We Broke Up, and to Hazel Grace Lancaster from TFiOS.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Books for when you're... (5)


Each fortnight 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.

Books for when you're wanting to be in a book-hangover (Part 2).
Continuing in the theme of my last post, I'm going to share two more books that resulted in me having a book-hangover, though they didn't happen until a year later.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Why I chose this book:


Though it only resulted in a minor book-hangover, this did it for me, too. I took my time coming to The Book Thief, because when I first looked at it I didn't think it was for me, and after reading the first three or so pages I knew that I had been very wrong. I simply loved this book because it is touching and simple and brutal and it shows life in the most honest sense. It really did a lot for me and became one of my favourite ten books of all time before I was even halfway through.


The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.

Why I chose this book:
So, Miss Dyer. We meet again.
Should I be surprised that this soul stealing series has got me twice now, or should I have seen it coming and acted accordingly a long time ago? Either way, the twisting story of Mara Dyer and Noah Shaw again submerged me and once it was over I was left searching for a non-existant (okay, definitely non-existant, but I'm allowed to add some dramatic drama) raft that would bring me back up and let me go on with my life.
Eventually I got back, with the help of Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil, but I can already sense what the final book will do to me.