The Sunshine Blogger Award

the-sunshine-blogger-award

I didn’t realise how many awards I have to catch up on! So, I’m going to take a break from the tags, and start responding to some of these award nominations. I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award a loooonng time ago by Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts, and more recently by Jesse @ Books at Dawn. If I’ve forgotten you, I’m sorry! Let me know and I’ll answer your questions too.

RULES:

  1. Answer the 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Nominate some wonderful bloggers and write 11 questions for them to answer.

JOEY’S QUESTIONS:

1. If you’re in an epic fantasy, what does your warcry sound like before battle? (Spell it out!)

So…I’m a coward and I’m pretty spineless, which means that pre-battle I’d probably just be whimpering and hiding in a corner. Sorry to disappoint you, Joey ūüėÄ

2. Who is a villain you despise? Now imagine that your child looks up to this villain. How do you handle it?

I read Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch recently, so the first villain that comes to mind is the King Angra of the Spring kingdom in the Snow Like Ashes trilogy. That guy is pure evil and I cannot stand him!

And how I’d react? “Alright, that’s it. Dishonour on your whole family! Dishonour on you! Dishonour on your cow!” Man, I love that scene from Mulan.

3. You’re a bartender. Concoct a drink with 3+ book titles in the name.

Scarlet Eclipse at Dawn (that makes no sense BUT shout out to Books at Dawn!)

scarlet      eclipse      the-wrath-and-the-dawn

4. What is one book cover (minus text on it) do you think could fit another book?

carry-on two-boys-kissingI just received Carry On by Rainbow Rowell in the mail the other day (the hardcover is soooo beautiful! Plus built-in bookmark!). Looking at the cover, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan came to mind straight away! I mean, lots of contemporary covers are pretty interchangable but I think the Carry On cover represents what Two Boys Kissing is about. Plus the covers themselves are so similar anyway.

5. What’s a song you feel best fits a book hangover?

To be honest, I can’t even think about music when I’m in the middle of a book hangover. But I just happened to be listening to really old Delta Goodrem songs today, and I think Be Strong is really appropriate for a book hangover. Even the lyrics are kind of perfect.

6. You’re on commute surrounded by readers. You notice that some have cracked spines, others dog-ear their pages, a few annotate it. How do you feel?

Like the world is ending?! I am the ultimate freak when it comes to the condition of my books. They have to look perfect even after I’ve read them. Whenever I see cracked spines and dog-earred pages or covers, I am actually horrified. I can’t even fathom… I just can’t. It hurts. But… people can do whatever they want with their books. As long as they’re not mine, then it’s fine. I still freak out though.

7. Would you rather read the page at 25% or 75% (a play on first/last).

Definitely 75%! If I’m going to cheat, I might as well go for the 75% mark where the climax usually is.

8. Blogging-related. How do you find new inspiration?

I think my biggest source of inspiration are all of the bloggers I follow. Being around people who have different kinds of creativity makes me want to push myself harder.

9. Your ideal book-significant other (i.e. boyfriend/girlfriend) ends up being together with one of your friends. Your reaction?

Aentee (Read at Midnight), WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! Aentee and I kind of have the same fictional boyfriends, so I’d probably race to Melbourne to hunt her down and then do a really impressive rendition of Jolene! And then we’d go yumcha ūüôā (So if you want me to come to Melbourne, you better start finding a real life Rowan or Levi).

But if it’s not Aentee, it’s probably Jesse who I need to hunt down. That guy goes around stealing all of my book boyfriends ūüėõ

10. Of all the books on your shelves, which book would you hide something in (you can think about carving the pages out or not)?

I would probably hide something in one of my Penguin Classics. I have about 12-15 of them and they all look the same. It won’t be a book that will jump out at you when you look at my bookshelf.

11. Complete the phrases: ‚ÄúReading is‚Ķ‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúBlogging is‚Ķ‚ÄĚ, ‚Äú[The] Community is‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

Reading is experiencing something you’ve never experienced before in your own life. Blogging is connecting with other like-minded people. The community is a place where I can fangirl as much and as hard as I want without judgment. ūüôā


JESSE’S QUESTIONS:

1. You’ve committed a crime and are going to jail for life. The judge allows you to bring three books with you and those are the only three books you’ll be reading for the rest of your life. Which three are they?

all-the-light-we-cannot-see      a-little-life      ill-give-you-the-sun

This was actually a pretty easy choice. These are my top three favourite standalone books of all time. I wouldn’t want to bring any books that are part of a series because it would kill me to not be able to read the other books.

Obviously, I have to take All The Light We Cannot See with me because it’s my favourite book ever. But I would also bring A Little Life since it has amazing writing, and it’s also a 720 page book. Each re-read would take me forever. And I would bring I’ll Give You The Sun because it’s YA and features a great romance and diverse characters.

2. Pick three characters from your favourite book and play the F*ck, Marry, Kill game.

My favourite book, as mentioned above, is All The Light We Cannot See… but that book really only features the two main characters. The side characters kind of come and go. So I’m going to pick Throne of Glass because I don’t think I talk about how much I love that series enough.

So I’d kill Chaol, marry Dorian, and have some sexy times with Rowan.

3. You’ve been granted a magical power from the Gods. Which power is it and why?

I think I would want the power to communicate telepathically with somebody else. Because sometimes I have a lot of feels that I can’t express with words and it would be cool if they could just read it from my mind, without me having to form the words ūüôā

4. You’ve been in a relationship with your man/woman and things are getting serious, but out of the blue they ask you to choose between them or your books. Which do you choose and why?

Oh my gosh, that would be my worst nightmare. Books are such a big part of my life that it would almost be like having to choose between a guy¬†or myself. So, I’d probably choose books because I’d hate myself if I had to give up something that defines who I am as a person. I DON’T KNOW. Ask me again when I’m actually in a relationship.

5. You’re being held at gunpoint and the shooter says he will set you free if you burn three of your books. Which three would you choose?

99-days      starry-night      love-hurts

6. Hero, Assassin or Prince/Princess? You can only pick one. Which do you choose to be, in a story with you as the main character?

I don’t think I’m badass enough to be an assassin, though that’s probably the one I would choose. It would be so completely opposite to who I am as a person that I’m interested to see what kind of a role I play in the story.

7. There is a new law coming into effect. It bans (insert genre here) from ever being read/written again. Which genre would you choose?

Horror. I cannot deal with anything scary at all, so I wouldn’t miss horror at all.

8. With wanting more diversity in books nowadays, what is one aspect you believe should be represented more and why?

LGBTQIA+ books are some of my favourite books to read, but I feel like there are quite a few of them out there now, and more and more being released. There are also a lot of books about mental illnesses and POC. What I think I’d like to see more of are books about physical disabilities.

9. Your favourite author is going to call you for a once in a lifetime chance to talk. You can only ask them one question. Who is the author and what is the question? Why?

Anthony Doerr is the author of my favourite book, but I’ve only read that one book by him. I don’t know if I can call him my favourite author. I’ll roll with it anyway. I don’t think I could just ask him one meaningful question, so I’d probably just ask “Can you come to Sydney?” Because there are pretty much no international authors who come to Australia. Plus I really want my first edition copy of All The Light We Cannot See to be signed by him.

10. If your favourite ship doesn’t end up together by the end of the book, would you give it a low rating and why?

Even though ships are super fun, I never base any of my ratings on them. It would be really spiteful if I did.

11. Pick 6 of your favourite characters and pretend they were in a horror movie. Only one will be the survivor, four of them will die, and the other one will be the killer. Who is the survivor, the killer, and in what order did the others die?

Eek. Okay, the characters I’ve chosen are Will Herondale, Cress, Rowan (ToG), Theron (Snow Like Ashes), Celaena, and Jem Carstairs.

Celaena will definitely be the killer because she’s an assassin. And Will is my ultimate book boyfriend so he has to be the survivor. He survives because Jem either sacrifices himself or saves him, as his parabatai. Cress would definitely be killed first because she’s timid. Theron would probably die next – I don’t think he’s as badass as the rest. Rowan would be next to go, as he tries to stop Celaena (she probably accidentally stabs him or something). And I think Jem would stay alive the longest because Will would have his back.

I’m actually pretty satisfied with this story. But I love all of these characters and would never let any harm come to them!


MY QUESTIONS:

1. If you had to choose between never reading your favourite book again or never eating your favourite food again, which would you give up?

2. Imagine there’s a massive spider next to you and the only way you could kill it was to hit it with your beautiful, signed and personalised copy of your favourite book. Would you do it, even if it means getting spider guts all over your book?

3. What is your patronus?

4. What is your favourite book of all time and would you want it to be adapted to film or TV? If there’s already an adaptation, what do you think of it?

5. If you were given the chance to attend Hogwarts, but had to kill your favourite Harry Potter character in order to attend, would you do it?

6. What is your favourite book that is set in Australia? If you haven’t read one, which one would you like to read?

7. If you could only eat one dessert item for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Pictures please?

8. If you could meet any blogger right now, who would you choose and why? (Link them, so we can check them out too!)

9. If your most anticipated book of the year came in the mail in very bad condition, and you had to send it back to the seller before they sent you another copy, would you just keep the damaged copy or wait for a replacement? Basically, imagine that you have to either return it that same day or keep it forever.

10. Do you have a favourite review that you’ve ever written? Why is it your favourite?

11. Name your top two favourite authors of all time. If they were both doing author events on the same day, at the same time, which would you choose to attend?


I TAG:

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Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

the-lake-house

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: October 21, 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN13: 9781742376516
Pages: 608
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia (RRP: $AU32.99)

A missing child…

June 1933, and the Edevane family’s country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edevane, sixteen years old and a budding writer, is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she’s also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn’t. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever.

An abandoned house…

Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police. She retreats to her beloved grandfather’s cottage in Cornwall but soon finds herself at a loose end. Until one day, Sadie stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace.

An unsolved mystery…

Meanwhile, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane, now an old lady, leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family’s past, seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape…

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

I won a copy of The Lake House from Allen & Unwin in a Goodreads giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is the first Kate Morton book I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I’m now kicking myself that I’ve never picked up any of her earlier¬†books, even though I’ve been walking past them at the bookstore for years and years! This book was mysterious, thrilling, endearing and just fantastic! I am also a big fan of historical fiction, and this book definitely doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

I very rarely read mysteries because I’m not very good with suspense – my heart just can’t handle these things – but The Lake House had me captivated. There is so much mystery in this novel, but there wasn’t anything that gave me a feeling of wrongness.¬†Everything felt like it was in the right place. There are countless twists, turns and misunderstandings, and a constant sense of suspense and mystery, but everything fit together perfectly like a puzzle. I loved how clever the plot was, and every time I thought I’d figured it out, I would learn something new. The Lake House just never ceased to shock and amaze me.

The plot had me guessing the whole time.¬†It was expertly created and it kept prompting me to think for myself. I did eventually guess what had happened, about 30 pages before the big reveal, but this wasn’t because the book was predictable. It was because the great plot and writing really made me try to solve the puzzle for myself, while the characters were doing the same thing. The reveal of what happened that night made complete sense and I thought the ending of the book was so heartwarming and I felt such a sense of closure that I couldn’t help tearing up a little. Everything was tied up neatly.

I thought the pace of the book was perfect. The mystery unravelled at just the right pace for me. It gave me enough time to digest what was happening without being too slow. I thought the¬†pace of the book gave it a very historical and peaceful feel, which was perfect for the setting of the novel. I also thought the writing style really complemented the story and was just a joy to read. The flow of the writing is amazing and very comfortable to read. I’ve watched¬†a couple of interviews with Kate Morton in the past, and as I was reading The Lake House, I could almost hear her voice narrating the book to me.

I was incredibly intrigued by all of the characters. I was fascinated by the story of the Edevanes and I wanted to know more and more about each of the characters and their stories. I loved all of the secrecy and the message that everybody has their own secrets to hide. I felt like I was there with each of the characters and I felt their sorrow, pain and anger along with them. It’s been a while since I’ve connected with the characters in a book as much as I did with the Edevanes.

There is romance in this book and¬†there were so many scenes that made my heart flutter. There are many instances of insta-love but I didn’t really mind it. For me, historical fiction almost has this magical, unknown quality to it, and insta-love has the same magical feeling to it. Because of this, I didn’t mind the instant connections at all.

I highly recommend The Lake House to readers who enjoy historical fiction, mysteries and romance. But I think anybody who enjoys fantastic writing should pick this up, because The Lake House is 600 pages of the best writing.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Halloween Book Recommendations

ten-halloween-books

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is Halloween-themed! Sadly, we don’t celebrate Halloween in Australia but I thought I’d give a couple of creepy recommendations today anyway.

I’m actually a really big wuss and I can’t deal with anything scary, so these recommendations are only slightly spooky or have an eerie quality to them. They probably won’t be scary to anybody else. I’m just spineless ūüėÄ


1. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

This is actually my favourite classic of all time (To Kill A Mockingbird is a close second). It’s very dark and gothic, with some really interesting themes. It’s also quite an easy classic to read and I really recommend this one.

2. The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black

This book is a little bit eerie and mysterious. It’s set in a small town where the people are aware of the presence of faeries and magic. A lot of it is actually set during the night, in the woods, which gives it a bit of a spooky vibe.

3. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s is a trilogy that I only got around to reading earlier this month and I loved it! The first book in the series is set on a small island in Wales and there are a lot of strange and mysterious things going on. There are monsters that can’t be seen and it’s just a really eerie and thrilling book!

4. The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

This is actually one that I haven’t read yet, but I’ve heard that it’s perfect for Halloween. From what I understand, the book is set in a graveyard? That already sounds kinda scary to me. I do plan to marathon the three books that are out so far, in December!

5. The Murders in the Rue Morgue – Edgar Allen Poe

I first read this when I was 14 and it was kind of terrifying! It’s very gothic and disturbing, like most of Poe’s works. There are obviously murders involved, and the victims are found in all kinds of mangled positions. It’s probably not spooky scary, but more disturbing scary.

6. The Witches – Roald Dahl

This book was read to me in school when I was 7 and I had nightmares for weeks! It’s probably not scary to me anymore but it was terrifying when I was a kid! I mean, who wouldn’t be scared of witches who kill children?! I was on the look out for bald women wearing wigs and gloves for literally a whole month. Thinking about it now still sends shivers down my spine.

7. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories – Tim Burton

This is a collection of very short stories with some really beautiful illustrations. I bought this when I was in high school and read it in one sitting. The stories aren’t very scary, from memory, but they had that whimsical and mysterious quality that you associate with Tim Burton.

8. The Lake House – Kate Morton

This is a book that I’m currently reading, and I’m not far enough into it to really comment about it. Again, it’s not a scary book, but it contains a mystery about a child who disappeared and was never found. It’s also set in Cornwall, which is already a little bit creepy.

9. The Complete Fairy Tales – Grimm Brothers

Another book that I’ve started but haven’t finished, but it’s justified because this is a massive book! This is a collection of really creepy and disturbing fairy tales by the Grimm Brothers! There’s so much death and violence!

10. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

A book with some really creepy, black and white illustrations, A Monster Calls was definitely spooky. It’s got a very dark and melancholy feel about it. It’s a book that isn’t too scary and it has a lovely message! I highly recommend this one.


Please leave me some books that you think are perfect for Halloween! Not too scary please – my heart won’t be able to handle anything too terrifying (I’m especially weak when it comes to ghosts and things I can’t see T____T).

Review: Outspoken by Lora Richardson

outspoken

Publisher: self-published
Release date: August 16, 2015
Format: eBook
ISBN: 1516935721
Pages: 252
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Penny Beck is a girl who says yes when she means no. She keeps to herself, follows the rules, and does what she‚Äôs told. After a disastrous experience with her boyfriend, she’s determined to change from the spineless person she‚Äôs always been into the strong woman she wants to become. All she needs is a little practice.

On a cross-country trip to check on her grandpa, she strives to become bolder and more outspoken with the strangers she meets. Penny’s plan is to practice saying and doing what she wants without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

Then she meets Archer, an introspective loner to whom she finds herself drawn. She realizes she does care what he thinks, very much. Will Penny be able to stick to her plan, or will she revert back to her people-pleasing ways?

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received an electronic copy of Outspoken from the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I love reading YA contemporary books and just the synopsis of this book told me that Outspoken would be right up my alley. I love a good coming-of-age book where there’s a lot of great character growth.

Penny has always done what other people tell her to do. She lets others make big decisions for her and she’s never spoken her own mind. She applies for college because her boyfriend told her to. She decides to major in chemistry because her father told her to. And she bought a black car because that’s the colour her younger sister wanted. But an incident with her boyfriend makes her realise that it’s time for her to voice her own opinions and say the things she wants to say. When given the opportunity to move across the country to check on her grandfather who has Alzheimer’s, she decides that a fresh start is just what she needs.

There’s not a lot that’s wrong with this book. It’s probably one of the best self-published books I’ve read, and it’s also a debut novel as well! So I guess I’ll start this review off with the one criticism¬†that I have. I don’t feel as though there was enough character development in this book for me. Judging from the synopsis, the book is ostensibly about Penny’s growth and her transformation from being kind of spineless to being an assertive young woman, but I missed seeing an improvement in her character.¬†The book starts off with Penny driving into her new town and becoming a new person and speaking her mind. Because we never got to really see who she was in the past, I couldn’t compare the person she was then to the new person she is now. I don’t feel as though she grew very much throughout the book either. There was just no before and after, for me. There is a point in the book where Penny goes home to visit and her sister mentions that she seems like a different person. I personally didn’t really see any changes in her, and that’s my main criticism of the book.

I think that the character development was probably overshadowed a little bit by all of the other things that were going on in the book. The book incorporates¬†a lot of issues like post-natal depression, Alzheimer’s disease, blindness and grief. I actually really enjoyed that these things were mentioned and explored but I think it took away the emphasis of the character growth that we were supposed to be seeing. Having said that, I don’t think this book would have been as interesting if it hadn’t explored those issues and shone a light on the struggles of the people who suffer from those conditions.

I really loved the pace of this book. It’s quite slow in pace, and really allows you to immerse yourself into the book and the situation. The flow of the book was really good and it never felt like it was too slow. The pace of the book was consistent and very comfortable to read. As with a lot of self-published works, there were some unnecessary details scattered here and there and it could have been edited down a little bit. But I thought the writing was easy to read and not overly purple prose or overly simple.

What I enjoyed the most about Outspoken were the characters. I could really relate to a lot of the things that Penny was feeling. I connected with all of her feelings about not being in control of her own life, because I’ve also had my own period of being forced to take a million extracurriculars as a young teen. I liked all of the moments where she was able to speak her own mind (though there were times when I was a little bit horrified by how rude she was). I also really liked her love interest, Archer. He’s the introverted and broody type that I naturally find myself drawn to. But he was also more complex than a lot of other YA male love interests. It was really refreshing to see his flaws and his darker side, and he still made me swoon. There were a lot of interesting side characters too and they all warmed my heart.

I liked Penny and Archer separately but I liked them even more together. In fact, my favourite scenes in the book were when they were together. They brought out the best in each other and were able to open up and speak honestly to each other,¬†even though they sometimes hid from others around them. I thought they had a really special relationship and really supported each other. I also feel like their relationship developed very naturally – it didn’t feel insta-lovey and there was no dancing around each other. The whole relationship¬†just felt very honest.

I really recommend this book! I love reading and promoting self-published authors (they need love too!) and this is a really impressive self-published contemporary YA novel. If you enjoy reading contemporaries, especially those with great romances and some road trip elements, I think you’ll really like Outspoken.

One Lovely Blog Award + Some Special News

one-lovely-blog-award

I usually only do one tag/award post a week but I have some exciting news to share so I thought I’d share it through this bonus award post today. I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by a couple of lovely bloggers: Samantha @ Reed’s Reads & Reviews, Jesse @ Books at Dawn, and Calliope @ Calliope the Book Goddess.

There seems to be a couple of different sets of rules, but I’ll go with the rules from Samantha and Calliope’s posts.

one-lovely-blog-award-badgeRULES

1. You must thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.

2. List the rules and display the award.

3. Add seven facts about yourself.

4. Nominate seven other bloggers and let them know about their nomination!


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Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

illuminae

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release date: October 20, 2015
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1760113808
Pages: 608
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, exes Kady and Ezra – who are barely even talking to each other – are forced to fight their way onto the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship is the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results. The fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what the hell is going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth and the courage of everyday heroes.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Illuminae is an imaginative, epic and intense first instalment to a new sci-fi trilogy by Aussie authors, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. #LoveOzYA. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the book launch in Sydney and have my copy signed and personalised by Amie and Jay! I’m so happy to have this beautiful book in my possession.

The formatting and graphics of the book were definitely the standout aspect of Illuminae. It’s very creative and is a feast for the eyes. This book is written completely as a series of classified materials, including email exchanges, dossiers, radio transcripts, ASCII art, and the inner thoughts of an artificial intelligence system. It’s an extremely unique book with lots to look at! I really appreciated how much thought and work went into creating graphics that made sense with what was happening in the story. I wish I could show you some of my favourite pages but copyright issues… You’ll just have to pick up your own copy ūüôā

Despite being very impressed with the visual aspect of the book from the very beginning, I was less impressed with the plot. I had a very hard time getting into the book. The first couple of scenes were a bit confusing because names were just being dropped everywhere and I had no idea what was going on. Luckily there were a few pages that summarised everything that happened in the opening scene and I was able to immerse myself into the action. The following 150 pages were quite slow with nothing much happening, and I just found it to be a bit boring and underwhelming. During these first 200 pages, the most interesting aspect, for me, was the romance. The book picked up for me at about the 200 page mark, and that was when I started seeing what the hype was about.

The last half of the book was definitely more impressive. There’s a lot more action and intensity, and it had my heart racing because I never knew what was going to happen next. It was so thrilling and action-packed, and the last 150 pages of the book had some of my favourite pages to look at. Having said that, I felt like the book was just a bit too long. The plot felt very drawn out and I think the book could have been 100 pages shorter. We were getting a play by play of everything that happened and I think some of it could have been cut out. As I was reading, I kept wondering how this was going to be a trilogy because there’s so much that happens in just this first book. But¬†the ending was tied up really neatly and there’s definitely potential for more books – I just have no idea what will happen next.

Despite being written in such a impersonal format, I had a really good sense of who the characters were. I felt a little bit disconnected from them at the beginning, but as we got to see more of them, I started to really like our two main characters, Kady and Ezra. Kady was a fighter and I loved her strength and determination. It was also apparent what a good person she is, and I felt the same way about Ezra. But while I liked them separately, I loved them together. The romance between the two of them was what got me through the first third of the book. I thought they were adorable together and the banter between the two characters was really fun to read.

I wonder if she is the kind to dream of happy endings and never risk tragedy. The kind to close her eyes and hope, rather than force them open and see the truth, wonderful and terrible as it is.

There are some pretty gruesome things that happen on the spaceships – the authors definitely don’t hold back. There’s lots of blood and guts, and headless dead bodies lying on the ground. There’s a lot of death, and a lot of the characters that we get to know, end up dying in pretty sad and grotesque ways. It was interesting and scary to see how people act in life or death situations.¬†There’s also an artificial intelligence system (AIDAN) that may or may not¬†be psycho and it¬†was actually kind of terrifying to be able to hear the inner thoughts of a machine – especially one who won’t stop introspecting about everything. At first I thought AIDAN was really weird, but he/it really grew on me and I ended up loving his sections the most. They were the most interesting to read and¬†I liked that the last third of the book was dominated by AIDAN passages.

The one aspect that I found lacking was the world building. Because Illuminae is set almost entirely on spaceships, there’s not much information given about the planet they came from, or any of their potential destinations. We get to see blueprints of these spaceships (which was really cool!), but we don’t know very much about the workings of these spaceships, or what’s out there in space. I guess this really allows the authors to do whatever they want with the next two books, and introduce things that weren’t mentioned in Illuminae, but I would have liked to have known more about the world and what the authors think space is like in 2575.

So just to recap, I loved the formatting and the design of Illuminae, and thought it was the most noteworthy aspect of the book. I enjoyed the characters and the relationships between them, but I thought the plot was a bit too slow and draggy in parts. The beginning of the book left me quite underwhelmed but the last 150 pages were really epic and fun to read.

Inside Out Book Tag

inside-out-tag

Inside Out is my favourite movie of 2015 so far and even though the hype has kind of died down, I’m still not over how good it was yet. Today I’m going to do the Inside Out Book Tag, which Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts tagged me to do¬†ages ago. The tag is simple – name a book that corresponds with the five characters in Inside out! Interpret it however you want.

sadness

So I think Joy is supposed to come first because she’s kinda the main character in the movie, but I like Sadness the most so she comes first!

There are many books that make me sad and there are also many books that make me cry but only a few books have made me ugly-cry for hours. I think the one that made me the saddest and cry the most was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. My heart received such a bashing that I’m still not sure that it’s completely healed.

joy

This is the answer I give in pretty much every tag, but I just love this book so much! Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. It’s cute. It’s adorable. It’s got Oreos. There’s really nothing that could make me happier.

anger

99 Days by Katie Cotugno made me really angry. I felt like there was so much potential in the idea behind the book but it was so poorly executed. The main character, Molly, was driven out of town by bullies when it’s revealed (through a novel that her own mother wrote!) that she cheated on her boyfriend with his brother. The book begins when Molly comes back for the summer. So you’d think that this book would be a coming-of-age or redemption story… NOPE. She just makes one bad decision after another and repeats her mistakes over and over again. There’s zero character development and she doesn’t learn anything in the end.

fear

A book that brought me fear or scared me was The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami. I read this at the beginning of the year so the details are a little bit fuzzy. The main character is a boy who visits a weird library. A strange man leads him to a room deep under the library and he’s trapped there for days and days. There are other creepy things that happen but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend this book. It’s really, really short – I read it in about 30 minutes – and it’s got some cool formatting and illustrations.

disgust

I’m going to interpret this as a book that I hated and felt like I wasted my time and money on. For me, this book is Love Hurts by Malorie Blackman. This is a collection of short stories by 20+ YA authors about the different sides of love… at least that’s how it was marketed. This caught my attention because a lot of my favourite authors contributed to this anthology (e.g. Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak). And I had a really good experience with the short story collection that Stephanie Perkins’ edited, so I thought this would be just as good.

It turned out that only 7 of the 24 ‘short stories’ in Love Hurts were original short stories. The rest were excerpts taken from already published books. I felt completely cheated and angry that I wasted $20 on a book that I had pretty much already read half of. I thought it was a really poorly curated collection too. A lot of the excerpts made no sense because we only got a couple pages and there was just no context.

This book just made me so angry and disgusted that I didn’t even care when I accidentally dropped it and left a huge crease on the cover. The front cover literally folded in half and I DIDN’T CARE.


I TAG: everyone!

I have no idea who has or hasn’t done this tag because I was kind of late to the Inside Out bandwagon… and this tag was popular such a long time ago that I’m probably the only one who hasn’t done it. So, link me yours if you’ve already done this tag!

Review: Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

ice-like-fire

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: October 13, 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0062286951
Pages: 479
Goodreads || Book Depository

Ice Like Fire is the second book in the Snow Like Ashes trilogy. This review contains some spoilers for Snow Like Ashes.

ICE LIKE FIRE SYNOPSIS

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared – thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron is hopeful and excited – with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira knows that the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe – even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Jannuari – leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception is woven tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom – and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter but for the world.

my thoughts

35 stars

Ice Like Fire was a book that I’ve been highly anticipating since I read Snow Like Ashes a couple months ago. In fact, I was so excited about it and disappointed that I couldn’t get my hands on an ARC that Aentee @ Read at Midnight sent me hers to read. And then of course, my pre-ordered copy came when I was halfway through the book…

I was a little bit let down by this sequel. It was quite slow and despite being 480 pages, not much actually happens in this book to further the plot. I found myself quite confused at times by what was happening, why it was happening or how it happened. I just found it to be kind of repetitive, without actually answering any questions. That was my tl;dr – now let me explain.

After reading Snow Like Ashes, I was so excited about the sequel because I could see a clear direction that the series could take. At the end of Snow Like Ashes, we’re just starting to be introduced to the magic system and I expected that to be developed and explored further in Ice Like Fire. Unfortunately, we don’t really learn anything new about the magic system and how it works. I expected Meira to learn how to control her magic and strengthen her powers but none of that happened in this book. We’re learning about the magic system as Meira is discovering it for herself, so I was quite confused at times by how everything fit together. So, in summary, I found the magic system and the plot, in that regard, to be quite stagnant.

One of the aspects that I liked most about the first book was the world building and how intricate and interesting the world was. I thought that the world was the most interesting aspect of Ice Like Fire too. In this book, we travel across Primoria into 3 different kingdoms: Summer, Yakim and Ventralli. I enjoyed being able to learn more about each of these kingdoms and their defining features.

But at the same time, I felt like descriptions about the kingdoms was all that we got. There was hardly any plot development – nothing happens while we’re in these different kingdoms. The time that we spend inside these kingdoms is spent either greeting the rulers of the kingdom, or searching for clues about magic (and these clues are found far too easily). Also, while I liked Summer and Ventralli, I didn’t find Yakim to be that special at all. Yakim is known as the kingdom of knowledge and innovation, but their ‘forward-thinking’ inventions were just things that we see everyday in modern times (e.g. lifts). I wasn’t too impressed by that kingdom.

There’s a strong focus on politics in this sequel. In this world, there is a divide between the kingdoms, but also a divide between the Rhythm kingdoms and the Season kingdoms. However, there are alliances between Seasons and Rhythms that are being formed and I had a little bit of a hard time following the motivations behind these alliances¬†and what they mean for the rest of the world. I thought the political aspects of the book were really interesting, but I felt confused at times and found myself speculating more than I probably should have.

What I probably had the biggest problem with in this book was the characters. There were some instances in Snow Like Ashes (especially at the beginning) when I thought that Meira was too headstrong. But I eventually ended up really appreciating her passion and her determinedness. In Ice Like Fire, Meira is just a shadow of who she used to be. She spends most of the book battling between being herself and being the Queen of Winter, who doesn’t act rashly and thinks about the wellbeing of all her people. I thought her character was pretty flat for most of the book and only comes to life at the end. I hope to see her continue to be a badass in the final book, because Queen Meira just doesn’t do it for me.

My favourite character in Snow Like Ashes was Theron (who also became one of my favourite characters of all time). Sadly, he had a complete change of character in this book. I felt uncomfortable every time he was mentioned and I felt like there was none of the Theron I knew and loved in this new Theron at all. I became very suspicious of him and his actions, and Meira’s distrust of him also made me not trust him either. With the unpleasant decline of Theron’s character, comes the resurgence of Mather and the revival of a potential love triangle again. Although I did like Mather in this book, I didn’t like that there were chapters written from his perspective. These chapters were few and far between and I didn’t think it was necessary to see from his perspective or to know his thoughts and doubts. I also thought it was odd that his chapters were written from third person, while Meira’s were in first person narration.

I’m honestly a little bit torn about this sequel. There were lots of things that I did like about it. It filled me with a great sense of excitement and the ending was intense and epic, and everything that I wanted the¬†whole¬†book to be. But as great as the last 50 pages were, the rest of the book was slow and almost without plot. I found a lot of it to be confusing and there was a lot of repetitive introspection and political plotting (which made it doubly confusing sometimes). I liked the world and the setting of the book but I wish the magic system had been developed and explained a little bit more.¬†There’s still a lot more that can be explored, so I’m hoping the final book will blow my mind.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Dinner Dates I Want A Book Genie To Grant Me

ten-wishes-i-want-granted

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the team over at The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is ten wishes that you want a book genie to grant you. Since this is a super broad topic, I decided to go with ten book characters who I’d love to have dinner with.

1. William Herondale

This guy could charm the pants off me. We’d have so much to talk about – we could talk about books and how much life sucks. I’d even talk about demons if he really wanted to. But if this dinner date ever happened, I’d probably just spend the whole evening staring at him without saying a single word.

2. Anonymous (Teeeeeebo!)

Anon from Zeroes is probably my new favourite person. He’s such an interesting character. I’d love to go to dinner with him and spend some one-on-one time with him. Even though he’s forgotten all the time in the book, I would never forget about him! He needs some love too.

3. All the Peculiar Children

I couldn’t choose just one of the Peculiar Children from Miss Peregrine’s. Plus I think it would be an awesome experience to have dinner with the whole gang. If I had to choose one person, I’d probably choose Millard. But since he’s invisible, that might be a bit of a problem. My second choice would be Hugh. He has the ability to manipulate bees (and he also keeps thousands of bees in his stomach?!), which I think is a really interesting ability. I’d love to hear more about it from him. He was also seriously badass in Hollow City. The scene with him and his bees was my favourite in the whole book.

4. Jase Garrett

Jase is probably my favourite contemporary male love interest. He’s just the nicest person and it was so refreshing to read about a guy who’s just really, really nice. He has 7 siblings (4 younger) and he’s so great with all of them. He’s also a big lover of animals. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with an overall great guy like Jase? If you haven’t read My Life Next Door, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favourite contemporaries of all time!

5. A (Every Day)

A wakes up in a different body every single day. Sometimes they’re male, sometimes they’re female. Sometimes it’s just a normal day, and sometimes it’s a special day like a birthday or a family holiday. I would love to be able to sit down and chat to A about all the experiences that he’s had. I think it would be the coolest thing ever.

6. Magnus Bane

Magnus is such a well-loved character, for obvious reasons. He’s got a great sense of humour and a wacky sense of style. I’d love to have dinner with him because he’d make sure that it’d be the most extravagant dinner I’ve ever had. We can chat about Alec and he can show me a couple of magic tricks. As long as he doesn’t try to summon a greater demon during dinner, I think we’ll get along great.

7. Cress

Cress is one of my favourite characters from The Lunar Chronicles. She’s adorable and a completely unexpected character. She’s an expert hacker and a really big fangirl! I wouldn’t even mind if she brought Thorne along. We’d have a great time together!

8. Willem De Ruiter

Willem from the Just One Day duology was my favourite person for a long time after I read the books. He’s such an enigmatic and interesting character. I would love to spend some time with him because he seems so knowledgeable about the world. He speaks Dutch and French as well and I’d just be swooning the whole time.

9. Don Tillman

Don is a middle-aged university professor (from The Rosie Project) so he seems like a little bit of a strange choice. But he’s pretty much Sheldon in a book and I think it would be so much fun to have dinner with him, just to see his reactions to all the annoying things I do.

10. Draco Malfoy

Draco is actually my favourite character in the Harry Potter books. I’ve loved him ever since I was little and I think if we had dinner together, he’d show me a really good time. I mean, he’s the snobby, rich kid so I’m sure he’d wine and dine my socks off. He could apparate me to some exotic location and we can have a super fancy dinner.


Who do you want to have dinner with?

Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

a-little-something-different

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release date: August 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1447273834
Pages: 242
Goodreads || Book Depository

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is a little aloof, Gabe is shy, and it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at the local Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV series. The bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes Lea and Gabe were meant to be together.

You’ll be rooting for Gabe and Lea too, in this irresistibly romantic, completely original novel!

MY THOUGHTS

15 stars

This book was a disappointment. Like most readers, I was drawn to the multi-POV aspect of the book because a book that successfully incorporates 14 different perspectives is one that I need to read. Unfortunately, this book fell short of my expectations, which weren’t that high to begin with. Fluffy contemporary romances don’t usually put a bad taste in my mouth but this one did.

What I did like about this book was the characters and how diverse they were. Our leading lady, Lea, is Chinese. Her good friend from high school is gay and her creative writing teacher is a lesbian. Our lead male, Gabe, is Portugese and Welsh. But even though our main characters aren’t the typical white characters that we see in YA and NA novels, there’s hardly any mention of their diversity so¬†they might as well have been white. This also made the characters very forgettable. There’s nothing about them that stands out and I probably won’t remember them in a couple weeks’ time.

The other thing that I liked about the book was that it was new adult (without all the sexy times) and featured an older cast of characters. If this book had been about high schoolers instead, it would have been very unrealistic and I would have quit it at the start. I also liked the ending of the book and how cute Lea and Gabe were together. And that concludes everything I liked about this book.

On to the negatives… the first thing that I have to talk about are the multiple perspectives. This book is written from 14 different perspectives – basically everybody except Lea and Gabe. In my opinion, this might have been a much more successful book if it had been written from only Lea and Gabe’s perspectives. The multi-POV aspect of it was very gimmicky and done very unsuccessfully, in my opinion. I personally might not have minded as much if the book was written in third person. But all of the 14 perspectives were written in first person and I didn’t enjoy reading about everybody’s inner thoughts and feelings.

I thought there were way too many perspectives and some of them were also quite pointless. We read from the perspective of a bench and from the perspective of a squirrel. I thought it was completely unnecessary. Those perspectives only existed so that we could eavesdrop on Lea and Gabe… without actually having to read from their perspectives. When you have to add unnecessary elements in order to make a gimmick work, why not just stick to how things are traditionally done¬†– writing from the point of view of the main characters? Another completely unnecessary POV was Pam’s. Pam is the wife of creative writing teacher, Inga (whose perspective we also see). In the book, we only see Pam when she’s interacting with Inga. Why was it necessary to also read from¬†her point of view, when we can just read from¬†Inga’s?

Half of the things that happened in the book were so mundane and unnecessary to the plot. The squirrel couldn’t find his acorns. Gabe’s brother helps Lea find a book in the library and they have a 10 second conversation. The bus driver reminisces and thinks about how he was just like Gabe when he was younger. After 30 pages, I was already wishing the book was over.

This book also contains pretty much all the romance tropes that I dislike. There is insta-love. Lea and Gabe¬†become interested in each other after their first meeting on Page 3, and from that point on, it’s obvious to everybody¬†straight away that they are interested in each other and meant to be together. I mean, are they so obvious that¬†everyone notices their mutual crush from the very first chapter? Literally all 14 perspectives notice, except maybe the bench because it’s too busy noticing how nice Gabe’s butt is every time he sits down.

And is it possible that this is my favourite butt from way back when?

There are also extreme cases of miscommunication. Lea thinks Gabe is gay. Gabe thinks Lea isn’t interested. Lea thinks Gabe is being cold and ignoring her. Gabe thinks Lea has a new boyfriend. Lea thinks he’s dating somebody else. Gabe thinks Lea hates him. If they talked to each other even once, I wouldn’t have had to suffer through this whole debacle.

I also found it almost laughable how often Lea and Gabe were in the same place at the same time. They frequent the same restaurants, cafes, parties and convenience stores… usually both at the same time. Every time one looked over, the other was there. It might¬†have been cute if they were rarer occurrences but it happened so often that it almost became a joke. Even the other characters talked about it:

“Lea is here, which means any second Gabe is going to wander in. And like clockwork, there he is.”

Another thing that I found problematic was that everybody was pushing them to get together, even strangers. I thought it was very unrealistic and there were some things that I thought would be unacceptable in real life. Their creative writing teacher tries to push them together multiple times in her classes. She makes her class work in pairs so that Lea and Gabe would have the chance to work together. She ends up changing a final paper, a couple of days before it’s due, into something completely different so that Lea and Gabe might end up together. She tries to push them into taking another creative writing class together the next semester, and tries to discourage another female student from taking said class so that Lea wouldn’t have any extra competition. I just thought the book took it way too far, to the point where it was unrealistic.

The writing in this book was also nothing special. It felt a little bit juvenile and unsophisticated to me. I had a hard time connecting with the writing and any of the characters because none of them seemed to act their age.

I was just thoroughly let down by this book. I went in expecting something great and ended up with something quite mediocre. I probably won’t be picking up Sandy Hall’s new book any time soon.