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.

(Goodreads)

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

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.

Twilight 

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.

Graceling 

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.


Updates.
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.

Romi.xx

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.

(Goodreads)

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)


(Goodreads)

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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour...


Title- Everything Leads to You.
Author- Nina LaCour.
Publish date- May 2014.
Publisher- Dutton Juvenile.


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A young woman finds love at the same time she finds mystery and work and life mixing themselves together, all sweet and intense and hard to define. (Yes for good through synopsis' Romi.)


What I thought:
I flew right into this, the story enveloping me in a way that doesn't often happen so quickly; it was really an encompassing tale, and I'm so glad that I read Lesley's beautiful, inspiring review, because it made me want to read this book I hadn't even heard of before as soon as physically possible.

It was written so vividly and I just loved the detail of Emi's job as a set designer. The detail of what it took her just to find one couch was incredible and I really felt her passion for her work and appreciated it so much. She loved it and dreams of making it her job, and she is incredibly talented at her work. The passion was just so strong and I felt it myself, passing through the pages of the story and into my own feelings.

The mystery element of the plot, however- the plot as a whole, really- capitvated me as I read but didn't leave me with much else, and I can't say I really liked it that much. Not all of it. Possibly not most. Similarly, Ava. She had her moments where I enjoyed her part of the story, certainly, but on the whole I always felt like there was something a little off, or false, about her.

I feel like this goes against the whole point of it, but I did love how Emi's love for women wasn't mentioned in the negative by anyone, not once- it was written so naturally and no one made fun of her, picked on her or anything, and I really just appreciated that. Wish there were more books where sexuality was just accepted, whatever way it goes, though almost always it seems to be the point where characters have to learn from by being bullied.


Rating: Between Hmm... and Ooh, very good.
I felt inspired, moved and impassioned by this beautiful story, and while there wasn't much in the plot itself that I really enjoyed, there was beauty in the characters and he love they felt, and that was enough.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell.


Title- The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Vol. 1.
Author- Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell.
Publish date- August 2014.
Publisher- Bloomsbury.
RRP- $19.99 (AUD)

(Goodreads)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A graphic novel adaptation, by seven artists, of the story of a boy called Nobody who lives in a graveyard.

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



What I thought:
I listened to Neil Gaiman (the, I believe, perfect voice for this story) read the audiobook of The Graveyard book a few months before, and I adored it. The story is odd., intriguing, amusing and whimsically blunt at times, and always with that vein of darkness- Bod is living in a graveyard, afterall, and he's there because someone (who may still be after him) killed his family one night when he was just a baby, though really that dark fact can be sidetracked every now and then as Bod's adventures take up the page and your mind alike.
It's a very vivd story, the characters unique and clear in my mind, and though I had very few troubles with the graphic novel, the fact that these characters are now drawn, pictured before me as they are in someone else's imagination, that took me a little but of time to get used to.

There are 7 different illustrators working on this, basically one for each chapter + the interlude covered in this volume, and that really struck me as neat- each had a different way of conveying the story, representing the characters (the favourites of mine being Stephen B. Scott with the Interlude and Galen Showman with Chapter 4), though none of them, no matter how intricate or fascinating or enthralling, truly fit what I already thought. Some characters, like the Indigo Man and Silus and the Sleer, they just are what they are in your head, and whilst I was so intrigued by how these artists chose to represent the characters, I can't say they felt right to me.

Rating: Ooh, very good.

It was such a marvellous experience, and a different one from listening to the audio, reading/taking in the graphic novel, though- I was excited by it, diverted- and my attention was persistently held.
All I could think when I finished was that I truly, truly wanted to see how what happened next would appear, and I fully intend to find out.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Plotting a Takeover: Character Buys 8.

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. All links go to etsy/the store's website. This week the featured book is...



The Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente.
Focusing on September.


A dark hued print that would speak of the sea and the dark things she hasn't yet met who live in it, of the world under fairyland where Halloween lives, of purple haired girls and the mysteries their eyes speak.

These just yell in high tones "September" to me, and I am not one to ignore high toned yelling, especially when I am the one doing it.

In her house would be things like this, wall hangings or bags or cloths with pictures of the creatures she longs to stay with, the ones she is so very fond of and wants to remember always.
(Source

The kind of dreamy thing she would see in Fairyland and remember, see and want to recreate at some point, to make sure she didn't forget.

I can imagine September as a young woman going to a fancy party, a fairy one or a human one, and thinking of Ell and wearing something like this, if she couldn't take him along with her.

For dancing with wyverns and around fairy circles and spending the night under the full, dreamy moon.

The first thing I thought of, practically, and this is just what I imagined.  A soft, thick, orange scarf for a girl who loves orange.

It's big and showy in it's way, but also delicate and small and I can imagine September falling completely in love with the detail and the flowers and wearing it always.

A pumpkin souffle scented orange candle? From Hagrid's pumpkin patch? I think September would be rightly thrilled by the very prospect. 

Orange, Orange, Orange. Like an autumnal pumpkin festival.

Witches around a table celebrating some deviousness? That is completely September, to me.
This is so Fairyland and September to me. It's kind of like the house is Fairyland and the creature is everything else, everything September hasn't found out yet.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Gentlemen Formerly Dressed by Sulari Gentill...


Title- Gentlemen Formerly Dressed. (Rowland Sinclair #5)
Author- Sulari Gentill.
Publish date- 2013.
Publisher- Pantera Press.

*Will almost certainly contain spoilers for the other four books in the series*


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
After their escape from Germany Rowland and his friends find themselves in England, where they wrongly assume they are safe. It turns out this country has a lot more to throw at them than any of the four could have ever imagined.

What I thought:
A part of me thinks that this was a disappointment, as a read, and that's only half true. I did dislike it more than I've disliked any of the other books in the series. I had more issues with the characters and the plot did feel pretty sluggish at times, but I also remember that it had some of the most historically interesting characters and places, for me, than the other books.
I really enjoyed Rowland's interactions with H.G. Wells, and with a sense of amusement Evelyn Waugh (that was sparky, I tell you), even the surprise appearance of a Prince (but which one I can't remember), which was quite peculiar and amusing, though my favourite thing was the intorduction of a stunning character called Countess, who was simply marvellous. He won my heart over in an instant, though I can't forsee him becoming a featured character due to the space of different countries.

There is somewhat a theme, a subtle one, where Rowland meets an important world figure in these books and here that just did not work for me, though it happens close to the end and I'm not willing to risk giving accidental spoilers by going into detail, but as much as I love Rowland, the implications of this meeting certainly felt like a stretch.

The plot was pretty sluggish for me, as I say, but it really picked up in the last... 75 pages or so, I'd say, when everything really came together- a few surprses and a few that'd already been guessed- and whilst one comment by the "villain" about why the circumstances were chosen simply felt strange and a little by someone in power, it was entirely thrilling and I was flipping the pages, hesitant and horrified and so captivated. That's what I want in a crime novel.

Rating: Mostly Hmm but also Poor at times.
I had some troubles with this, the biggest and most compared to any other books in the series, but it was by no means all fault and no joy or captivation. They just took more of a backseat this time.

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)

(Goodreads)

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.