Wrap Up: February 2016

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I had another pretty good reading month in February but I went through a tiny bit of a slump in the middle of the month when I wasn’t really enjoying what I was reading. I’ve been slowly overcoming that though and hopefully March will be a stellar reading month. I guess another reason why my reading month was a bit sluggish this month was because I was in the process of moving house and I was just too exhausted to read and enjoy my books (shelfie coming soon, I promise!). Continue reading

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The Book Courtship Tag

book-courtship-tag

I’ve been seeing The Book Courtship Tag going around for a really, really long time and I thought I’d finally do it today. I was tagged by Ayunda @ Tea and Paperbacks and Summer @ Xingsings. Go and check out their posts!

Phase 1: Initial Attraction – A book that you bought because of the cover

since-youve-been-gone I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a lot of cover-buys. When I’m browsing in a bookstore, it’s usually the covers of books that get my attention first.

Since You’ve been Gone by Morgan Matson was a book that I kept seeing online and the amazing dust jacket was what pushed me to order this really expensive hardcover online. Of course, being a coming-of-age contemporary story, it was right up my alley. But I would have bought it even if it was completely out of my comfort zone.


Phase 2: First Impressions – A book that you got because of the summary

cinderscarletcresswinter Fairytale retellings with a sci-fi twist? Sign me up straight away!!! I loved that Cinder was a super badass mechanic and cyborg!


Phase 3: Sweet Talk – A book with great writing

the-stars-at-oktober-bend When it comes to books with amazing writing, All the Light We Cannot See is probably my number one pick. But I’ve been told that I never shut up about that book, so today I’m featuring The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard. It has a beautiful mixture of prose and verse that makes the book a pleasure to read.

Other favourites of mine with great writing are I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and Just One Day by Gayle Forman.


Phase 4: First Date – A first book of a series that made you want to pick up the rest of the series

the-winners-curse I have to choose The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutokoski for this one.

This book was near perfect. It had a wonderful atmosphere, some really complex characters and lots of political intrigue. It was wonderful and I binged The Winner’s Crime immediately after I finished the first book and it was even better! It was so full of tension and I could not stop raving about this series for a full month afterwards. I cannot wait for The Winner’s Kiss to arrive at my doorstep. It’s going to be EPIC.


Phase 5: Late Night Phone Calls – A book that kept you up all night

fangirlcarry-on Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was the first book that I remember staying up all night reading. I finished the book in one sitting at about 4:30am.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is the other book that I distinctly remember staying up all night for. I think I finished it at about 5am in the morning. I guess there’s just something about Rainbow’s books.


Phase 6: Always On My Mind – A book you could not stop thinking about

a-little-life A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara completely broke me. It was the most intense and emotional read of my life and I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. This book took me about two weeks to read and I couldn’t think about anything else during those two weeks. I couldn’t pick up another book because all I wanted to read and think about was A Little Life. And after I finished the book, I found myself in a pretty intense reading slump, where I didn’t want to read anything else because my heart was still so broken and I was so emotionally exhausted.


Phase 7: Getting Physical – A book which you love the way it feels

harry-potter-illustrated-edition-cover The illustrated edition of Harry Potter is a book that I love holding in my hands, even though it’s super heavy. It just feels so luxurious.  I really like the embossed text of the title and the super matte texture of the cover that makes it feel really velvety. I also love the feel and thickness of the pages and the built-in bookmark.

I’m so excited for the illustrated edition of Chamber of Secrets to be released. I think I might preorder it soon.


Phase 8: Meeting the Parents – A book you would recommend to your family and friends

ill-give-you-the-sun You mean something that’s not All the Light We Cannot See (I literally push that book so hard that I end up buying it for everyone’s birthdays).

I highly recommend I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I kinda push this book a lot too but it deserves all the high praise. It explores so many different things that every reader could find something enjoyable about it. It has beautiful writing and a beautiful story, with a really diverse cast of characters. It’s my favourite YA novel of all time!


Phase 9: Thinking About the Future – A book or series you know you will reread many times in the future

My-Life-Next-Doorcarry-on These are two books I can see myself rereading over and over. They’re both really fast-paced and easy reads, despite them having an above average page count. I love the characters in both Carry On and My Life Next Door so much. I would love to revisit their world and get to know them over and over. And of course, I can see myself rereading All the Light We Cannot See until my physical copy falls apart from being over-read.


Phase 10: Share the Love – Who do you tag?

Tagging 5 of my newest followers. Thank you for the follow and the support (even though I’ve been a sloth lately).

And of course, 5 of my old friends/tag buddies

 

Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

ink-and-bone

Publisher: Allison & Busby
Release date: July 7, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 407
Goodreads || Book Depository

Knowledge is power. Power corrupts.

In a world where the ancient Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed, knowledge now rules the world: freely available, but strictly controlled. Owning private books is a crime.

Jess Brightwell is the son of a black market book smuggler, sent to the Library to compete for a position as a scholar . . . but even as he forms friendships and finds his true gifts, he begins to unearth the dark secrets of the greatest, most revered institution in the world.

Those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn. . . .

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Ink and Bone is an alternate history novel, set in a world where the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed. In this world, knowledge is power and more important than anything else in the world. Because of this, the Library and its staff rule over everything and not everybody uses their power for good… The world is full of people who want knowledge to be free and accessible for everybody and rebellious groups have formed as a result of this, such as the Burners, who burn books and martyr themselves to make a point. There are also black market book smugglers who steal and sell original and unique copies of books to collectors. Jess Brightwell was born and raised in a family of book smugglers but he’s never really fit in with everybody else. One day, he’s given the chance to sit an exam to become a Scholar at the Library in Alexandria, and the story starts from there.

Knowledge is all. The Library’s motto, and this was what it meant in the real world. It meant that nothing, nothing was more valuable. Not even lives.

I really, really loved the world in this book. It was a regressed society, meaning that it’s set in the future in 2025 but almost felt like it was set in the 19th century instead. It had some really cool sci-fi and steampunk elements, with automatons shaped like lions and teleportation/translation through a ‘portal’. Each character also had a Codex, which came across to me as a cross between a book and a tablet. The characters were able to send messages to each other through the blank pages of the Codex, and it also contained the complete list of titles available in the Library. I thought it was a really unique idea and really enjoyed it. I have to admit that it did take me a while to get a good sense of the world. It was just so futuristic and historical at the same time that I had some difficulty comprehending and imagining it all at times.

The characters in this novel were absolutely magnificent. I really enjoyed Jess as a main character. There was a point in the book when I thought he was going to be the Chosen One and I shuddered a little at the thought of another Chosen One story, but I’m glad that it didn’t turn out that way. The characters were all very complex and they all had some secrets to hide, which made them very multi-dimensional and unpredictable. The diversity in the characters was wonderful. I loved that there was racial diversity as well as sexual diversity. Overall, they were characters that I enjoyed reading about and had no problem rooting for. What I had a bit of a hard time dealing with were some of the Library staff. I couldn’t really keep them straight in my head because they were referred to by their titles rather than by names. It took me almost the whole book to remember what their role was and whether they were good or evil.

For me, the world and the characters definitely the standout aspects of this book. While I really enjoyed the plot, I was missing a little bit of the ebbs and flows that we usually see in story arcs. There wasn’t a climax or resolution and I just wanted the book have more of a build up of intensity. I loved what I read but it all felt a little bit flat, which stopped me from being super excited and invested in the book. It almost felt like the book was cut off before the excitement began. I am in a slight reading slump, so maybe that’s just me not really feeling excited to read in general.

What I also didn’t really like in this book was the romance. I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t see a lot of development so it almost felt like it came out of nowhere. There was definitely some attraction and interest, but they went from just chatting like friends to kissing and it just didn’t feel genuine to me. The romance is a pretty small part of the book though, so it didn’t bother me too much.

Despite the little problems that I had with the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t a book that was on my TBR but I’m glad that it was recommended and pushed to me.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hesitated to Pick Up But Ended Up Loving

ten-books-i-hesitated-to-pick-up-but-loved

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is books that I enjoyed recently that weren’t my typical genre. Now, I don’t really have a typical genre. My favourite genre is contemporary but in the past year, I’ve really started reading more widely and there isn’t anything that I’d really consider out of my comfort zone. The only exception is crime fiction, horror, thrillers, mysteries… anything that’s super suspenseful, I will (and still) avoid like the plague.

Instead of featuring books that were out of my comfort zone, I’m going to feature books that I hesitated to pick up for ages and ages, but ultimately, ended up enjoying a lot in recent months.

1. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

I had the first three books of the Raven Cycle on my shelf for about 9 months before I finally picked them up and marathoned them in December. I don’t read very much paranormal fiction and I had heard that the pace of this one is super slow, so it just kept sitting on my shelf. I’m glad that I ended up reading them because I absolutely love this series!

2. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children trilogy by Ransom Riggs

I had wanted to buy and read this series ever since I first heard about it because the photographs in the books really intrigued me. However, I wasn’t sure that it would be my cup of tea because I don’t really like scary things. After some peer pressure (and the imminent release of the finale), I decided to pick them up and give them a go and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I love all three of the books and I can’t wait to see the movie!

3. Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

Peer pressure also made me finally pick up this trilogy (thanks Joey and Aentee!). I don’t really like reading dystopian fiction so I hadn’t really intended to pick this up… but those around me wouldn’t stop raving about it and I couldn’t not check it out.

4. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

I honestly don’t know why I didn’t pick up PJO until December of last year… It was just never really that high up on my list of priorities and I preferred to read YA over middle grade. MY BAD.  I absolutely love Percy and Camp Halfblood! Cannot wait to dive into The Heroes of Olympus soon!

5. The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

This was another trilogy that I kept hearing about in the community but was never really that interested in. I finally ended up buying the books in October or November, and read them at the very beginning of this year. This is one of my new favourite series. I love the characters, the plot and the political intrigue so much! The third and final book cannot be released soon enough!

6. Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

I received a really early proof copy of this at a HarperCollins event last year, and after seeing Jeann @ Happy Indulgence DNF it before the halfway point, I was super hesitant to check it out for myself. I finally read it a few weeks ago and actually really enjoyed it! Jeann has also since finished the book and ended up enjoying it too.

7. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

This was a contemporary that I bought pretty much as soon as it was released in Australia. But then it just ended up sitting in my TBR pile and I didn’t get around to reading it until December or January, despite constant nagging from many bloggers. I loved the romance in this book and thought it was absolutely adorable! I highly enjoyed this book.

8. What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

I got an ARC of this book in August of last year, but the book wasn’t released in Australia until December. I just kept procrastinating and not wanting to read it because it was still so far until publication. I ended up picking it up in November and I fell in love with the novel. It was brilliantly written and deals with a serious topic that needs to be discussed.

9. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

This one had been on my shelf for two months before I finally read it earlier this month. It’s a book that’s actually right up my alley but I kept hearing nothing but good things about it and was worried that I wouldn’t like it. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case and I ended up loving it!

10. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

This one probably isn’t a ‘recent’ read. I think I read it over 6 months ago but I remember having this on my TBR pile for months before I finally read it. It deals with mental illness and schizophrenia and it’s always hard to be in the right mood for a book like this…


Have you read any of these books and what did you think? I highly enjoyed all 10 of the books/series that was mentioned in this list!

The Versatile Blogger Award

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Hey all!

I’ve been a little bit absent lately because I’m in the process of moving house and things at work are really hectic leading up to the beginning of semester. Anyway… I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award by Jesse @ Books at Dawn and Beth @ Reading Every Night. Please go and check out their posts and blogs!

RULES:

  • Show the award on your blog
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Share 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 blogs
  • Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination

7 FACTS ABOUT ME

1. I bashed my face into the car door yesterday when I was loading my car with a heavy box of books. My mouth is now swollen and it’s not a pretty sight…

2. I am obsessed with this Australian reality cooking show called My Kitchen Rules. I’ve watched every episode for the last 6 seasons (and each season is like 48-ish episodes long). That is dedication, if I may say so myself. But I still cannot cook.

3. I have found a super cool alternative to colouring books! I recently found out about Scratch Night View by Lago Design Global. They have a whole range of city night views, and you just scratch off certain bits to reveal a picture. That explanation probably made no sense, but here’s a picture of the London night view that I bought. I haven’t started it yet but will update everyone on my progress once I start 😀

London Scratch Night View

4. My favourite cuisine is Japanese and I can eat it all day, every day. My go-to dishes when I visit a new restaurant is either chicken katsu curry or kaisendon. And I also get either gyoza or takoyaki.

5. When it comes to chips/crisps, I love crinkle-cut chips a lot more than ordinary flat chips. They just taste better. And my favourite flavour of chips are cheese and onion.

6. My younger brother is a sushi chef and now I’m super sick of  sushi because he keeps bringing home left overs, which I’m forced to eat for lunch the next day. The rice is always really hard… and sushi should just never be eaten unless it’s on the same day it was made! But I always feel pressured to eat it because it would be a waste if we just chucked it out (even though they were left overs that should have been chucked out anyway!).

7. I have a bookstagram account now @readingwithjenna. I don’t post very often because I don’t have a space in my current house where there’s good lighting and enough empty space to take photos. I am moving really soon so hopefully I can post a little bit more. I still post occasionally on my personal account @jennalzhao but those are mostly food photos XD

I NOMINATE:

Everyoneeeee! I love reading facts about everyone so I nominate you all!

Review: How Not to Disappear by Clare Furniss

how-not-to-disappear

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release date: January 28, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 400
Goodreads || Book Depository

Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to “find himself” and Kat’s in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding.

Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby…

Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one previously knew even existed comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia.

Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery – Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are wiped from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received a copy of this book from Simon and Schuster Australia. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This is a story about two women from different generations who go through similar experiences of being pregnant at a young age. It is a heartwarming story about family and motherhood and I enjoyed it very much.

In this book, Hattie discovers that she’s pregnant with her best friend’s child and she has no idea how to handle the situation. She spends her time ignoring the situation and when she receives a phone call one day about a crazy great-aunt that she never knew existed, she decides that it’s the perfect distraction. Her great-aunt, Gloria, suffers from dementia and wants to tell Hattie some family secrets that nobody else knows about before her memory fades. Together, they go on a trip to places from Gloria’s past and Hattie discovers some answers to her predicament.

This has two separate storylines. We get Hattie’s story and how she handles the knowledge of her pregnancy, as she travels through England with Gloria. We also get Gloria’s story through flashbacks spread throughout the book. I really enjoyed that both of these storylines were included in the book and, being a lover of historical fiction, I really liked the time period and setting of Gloria’s story. Gloria’s past was like a mystery that was slowly being unravelled throughout the book and I appreciated the little twists that the author placed in the book. I did predict the twist that came at the end of the book, about halfway through the novel, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I also appreciated the dual perspectives that we got, but I did have some issues with it. Hattie and Gloria’s voices were too similar for my liking. I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two perspectives and if there wasn’t a difference in font and formatting in the book, I would’ve been completely confused. Gloria also acted and sounded like a child most of the time, which didn’t help the confusion.

I wasn’t a fan of the writing style in general. There was far too much telling and not enough showing, which made me feel a little bit disconnected from everything that was going on. I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the story and I just wasn’t engaged with what was happening. The book could have been a much more emotional read, if I had been shown what was going on rather than told. Hattie was also a chronic question-asker and I felt like I was even being told what questions I should be having about the plot. There were questions being thrown at me in quick succession, and I couldn’t help but think that they were questions I should be formulating by myself. I also thought that the flow of the book wasn’t very good. A lot of sentences were all mid-length and I think the novel needed a bit more variation in sentence length in order to have better flow.

I really enjoyed the plot of the story (both the main plot and Gloria’s past) but the book was a little bit slow in pace. There was a big section in the middle of the book where nothing really happens and I felt quite disengaged. There were lots and lots of flashbacks in this middle section and I felt like the book wasn’t really progressing. They were pretty much just driving, eating, sleeping and walking around the streets, in the present. We were getting to know Gloria’s story (at an agonisingly slow pace) but not getting to know more about Hattie at the same time. I did highly enjoy the first and last thirds of the book though.

The characters of this book were likeable and relatable for the most part. I loved Hattie and how kind-hearted she was. She was also very mature and put herself and her well-being first when it came to making decisions. I also really liked Gloria’s character but, like I mentioned before, she acted like a child a lot of the time, which was pretty frustrating to read about. I also didn’t think that Gloria’s dementia was handled very well. There were a couple of info-dumps about dementia but I found that it was the same information being dumped over and over. I didn’t think we needed constant reminders about one symptom of dementia. The information was all presented as research from websites that Hattie had done, which made it sound very unreliable. I thought the dementia could have been incorporated and developed a little bit better in the book.

Even though I have quite a lot of criticisms about the book, I still enjoyed it. I thought the story was heartwarming, well-conceptualised and brought out all the emotions in me, but was slightly lacking in its execution.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Music

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. The theme for this week is books and music, so I’ll be listing ten books that feature music.

Just a disclaimer… I haven’t read like half of these books. I’m not really into books that are specifically about music. I’m generally just not a fan of books with a male rocker love interest. But here we go:

1. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner is the companion novel to Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls (Shiver) trilogy. It focuses on Cole and Isabel’s story, and in this book Cole is a musician who’s trying to make it big in LA. I didn’t really enjoy this book very much… purely because I hated the ‘drugs, sex and rock n roll’ elements.

2. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia and Adam from If I Stay are both musicians. Mia is a cellist, who’s aiming to become a professional. Adam is part of an up-and-coming rock band. I really enjoyed the relationship between Mia and Adam in this book and they music brought them together even though they were into different genres.

3. You’re the Kind of Girl I Write Songs About by Daniel Herborn

This is an Australian YA debut novel, set in the inner west suburbs of Sydney. Both of the main characters are into their music and Tim is trying to make it as a musician. I wasn’t a huge fan of this book either. It just tried to be too hip and cool with all of these references to obscure bands.

4. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Etta, the protagonist of the book, is a violin virtuoso. She wants to debut as a professional but then finds out that she comes from a family of time travellers. What’s really cool about the time travel in this book, is that it incorporates music into it. Certain musical notes need to be played in order to open up the time travel passages.

5. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Music doesn’t play a huge part in this book but Jem Carstairs plays the violin and I just had to mention him because I love him so much ❤ That violin part in the epilogue KILLED me.

6. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

I read this book about 8 years ago so I don’t really remember how music was involved. I’m pretty sure the male love interest was in a band? Or the main character somehow goes through a healing process because of music?

7. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I started this book when it first came out but I had to put it down because life got really busy… and just never picked it back up. I remember music featuring pretty heavily in the first part of the book that I actually read. Also, they’re sharing earphones on the cover of the US edition, so I assume there’s a lot of music in this book.

8. The Chimes by Anna Smaill

Another book that I haven’t read. I’ve wanted to read this since I first heard about it mid last year. It’s set in a dystopian world where memories and writing don’t exist, and everybody has to rely on music? It sounds super intriguing and I know that the author is a violinist.

9. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

I haven’t read this book either but this whole book is about music. It features a girl who just can’t seem to fit in or make friends, but one day she stumbles upon party and discovers a love for DJing and some new friends who have a love for music.

10. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Haha another book I haven’t read. I know that this book has a lot of musical references and Nick is part of a band. Don’t actually know too much else.


Have you read any of these books and which do you recommend?

 

Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

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Publisher: Indigo
Release date: November 5, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 390
Goodreads || Book Depository

Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, they host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The prize? An audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele’s twin brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and stay true to her mission?

MY THOUGHTS

45 stars

Wolf by Wolf is an alternate history WWII novel with a sci-fi twist. In this world, the Axis powers won the second world war and Hitler has control of most of the Western world, while Japan and Emperor Hirohito is in control of the East. However, the Resistance is growing and our main character, Yael, is at the centre of a mission to bring down Hitler. Each year, a cross-continent motocross competition is held and Yael enters this race posing as the previous year’s winner, Adele Wolfe. As the winner of the motocross race, Yael would have the opportunity to have a private audience with Hitler, where she plans to kill him.

The only people desperate enough to do business under high moon and heavy shadows were resistance conspirators, black-market scoundrels and Jews in disguise.

Yael happened to be all three.

Yael was taken to a death camp as a child, where she was experimented on and injected with chemicals that would give her an Aryan appearance. But white blonde hair and pale blue eyes weren’t all that these injections gave Yael. She acquired the ability to skinshift, meaning that she can change her appearance at will, including her bone structure, the colour of her skin, the colour and length of her hair and the sound of her voice. This ability has put Yael at the heart of the mission to assassinate Hitler. She enters the motocross race as Adele Wolfe and must try to keep her own identity and her true self hidden. But this proves to be harder than Yael expected. She finds her own emotions getting in the way of what needs to be done. In addition to that, she could have never expected Adele’s twin brother to also enter the race or that there may be a secret relationship between Adele and another competitor that Yael knows nothing about…

I really loved Yael’s character. She was very intriguing and I loved seeing her inner turmoil as she tried to stay in the character of Adele, while her whole being was telling her to act in a completely different way. I enjoyed seeing her develop from a person who was hellbent on revenge and refused to let anything get in the way, to a person who cared about those around her and how her actions would impact them. The emotional growth in her character as she experienced romance and brotherly love was wonderful to see and I liked seeing her rely on others and not taking on everything by herself. The only thing that I was skeptical about were her abilities. I just didn’t quite believe what she could do in terms of her skinshifting. It just seemed so completely impossible that I had to just suspend my disbelief.

My other small criticism is about the world that Ryan Graudin has created. I love the idea of the book and I really enjoyed the alternate history world. Graudin has done as fantastic job at creating a world that is plausible given the actual events of WWII. I really enjoyed how she integrated the East and the West, and how those from Germany had to learn the Japanese language and vice versa. And I also enjoyed the tension between the Germans and the Japanese, and how they continued to want to beat the other. My problem with the world was that it didn’t feel historical enough. Everything seemed very advanced and contemporary, which I could kind of understand given how much experimentation the Germans conducted. But there were times when I’d forget that this novel was taking place in the mid-1950s. It felt like it was happening in the present day, and I just didn’t get a good sense of the time period, which is the only reason why I’m taking off half a star.

I thoroughly enjoyed the other characters in the book. Wolf by Wolf had a spectacular cast of really complex characters that just kept me guessing the whole time. They were all very multidimensional and I loved how they weren’t who they seemed to be. It was difficult to understand their motives and I’m still unsure about some of the characters, but that’s what I loved most about this book. It was unpredictable and had me really excited to find out more. There is a little bit of romance in this book that was slow burning and had me wanting things to just happen. But it made me super excited for what’s to come.

I also really enjoyed the writing style of this book. It was definitely a unique style that isn’t for everybody but I didn’t find it to be hard to read and I thought some of the stylistic devices she used were very successful. There was a little bit of purple prose at times, but I didn’t mind it too much. The novel also consisted of ‘then’ and ‘now’ chapters and I thought they were perfectly placed. Often, books with then and now chapters seem very repetitive and unnecessary but I thought Ryan Graudin did a fantastic job with this format. The plot flowed extremely well and I enjoyed everything that happened in the book. I did predict the twist at the end though, because I knew that there would be a sequel to the book, so I wasn’t completely surprised by it. But it had me very excited about what’s to come and I’m highly anticipating the next sequel.

Overall, this was a highly enjoyable, fast-paced and action-packed book that has an interesting world and amazing characters that you will love. I highly recommend this one!

The Coffee Book Tag

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I haven’t posted a tag for a while because I felt like my answers were really repetitive. But I’ve read a lot of books since my last tag, so I have some brand new answers for some of these questions.

I was tagged by Summer @ Xingsings to do The Coffee Book Tag. I’m not a coffee-drinker (I hate the taste) but this seemed like a fun tag, so here we go:

Black: A series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans

the-raven-boys the-dream-thievesblue-lily-lily-blue

I LOVE The Raven Cycle and I’m one of those hardcore fans. But I have to admit that it’s hard to get into because the books are so slow-paced! It’s worth pushing through though because the series is amazing!


Peppermint mocha: A book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year

dash-and-lilys-book-of-dares

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is one that I don’t hear anything about unless it’s during the holiday season. Nobody ever mentions this book until it’s December and once Christmas is over, this book is pretty much forgotten until next December. It’s definitely a super popular book during the winter though, and I myself read it around Christmas in 2014.


Hot chocolate: A favourite children’s book

The_Magic_Faraway_Tree adventures-of-the-wishing-chair

I was obsessed with Enid Blyton’s books when I was a child. I loved her Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair series. But I also remember reading a lot of her Five Find-Outers, St Clare’s and Malory Towers series. I think I still have all of those books lying around at home somewhere!


Double shot of espresso: A book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish

the-winners-curse the-winners-crime

I read the Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski in January and it’s become one of my new favourite series! They’ve got such a great tone and atmosphere and literally had me flailing and bouncing around from the tension and anticipation. The Winner’s Kiss cannot come soon enough!! I NEED IT!


Starbucks: A book you see everywhere

throne-of-glass

I see Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas EVERYWHERE. And I can understand why because it’s such a wonderful series!

I went to the bookstore yesterday and there was a whole shelf dedicated to all of the Throne of Glass books. And there were also stacks and stacks of them in the popular titles area. It was actually kind of ridiculous.


That hipster coffee shop: A book by an indie author (a shoutout)

the-bureau-of-time

I don’t read as many indie titles as I would like… but The Bureau of Time by Brett Michael Orr, fellow Aussie blogger, is one that I’m super excited about. I did a cover reveal post a few month ago.

Sadly, I still haven’t been able to get my hands on it because it’s not available on iBooks yet. But you can get it from most other online retailers right now!


Oops! I accidentally got decaf: A book you were expecting more from

the-year-we-fell-apart

I had super high hopes for The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin. It was one of my most anticipated contemporary releases of 2016 but it was a little bit underwhelming. I wasn’t a fan of the plot or the MC. She was extremely frustrating to read about because she kept making the same mistakes over and over again. There just wasn’t enough character development and I didn’t really enjoy it. The only aspect of the book that didn’t disappoint was the cover. It’s beautiful.


The perfect blend: A book or series that was both bitter and sweet, but ultimately satisfying

clockwork-angel clockwork-princeclockwork-princess

I don’t think this needs any explanation. I love The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. It really has everything you could possibly want from a series! You should read this if you want to feel all the feels!


Green tea: A book or series that is quietly beautiful

the-stars-at-oktober-bend

I recently read The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard, and it’s become one of my favourite Australian YA titles. It has the most beautiful writing and the most beautiful characters and relationships. The relationship between the main character, Alice, and her brother, Joey, was just the most heartwarming thing I’ve read about in a really long time. The romance was also brilliant. It’s a simple book with a simple plot that’s just executed brilliantly.


Chai tea: A book or series that makes you dream of far off places

passenger

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken really takes you on a journey. It’s a scavenger hunt through time and space, and you’re transported to all of these amazing locations and time periods, including 1940s London, 19th century Paris, etc.

The book really made me want to travel more and see different places and learn about the history of these different places.


Earl grey: A favourite classic

the-picture-of-dorian-gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is my favourite classic of all time. It’s dark and mysterious and has a plot that just pulls you in. Best of all, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a pretty easy classic to read, and I highly recommend it!

Other classics that I enjoyed are The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.


I tag:

I’m tagging 7 of my usual tag buddies and 7 of my newest followers.

Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

anna-and-the-swallow-man

Publisher: Corgi Children’s
Release date: January 28, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 240
Goodreads || Book Depository || Dymocks

Kraków, 1939, is no place to grow up. There are a million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. And Anna Lania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father and suddenly, she’s alone.

Then she meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall. And like Anna’s missing father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgement, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous . . .

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received a copy of this book for review from Dymocks via the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The premise of this book is simple. Seven-year-old Anna is left with a friend of her father, while he attends a meeting at the university where he works as a linguistics professor. However, he never returns from his meeting and Anna is left alone in the middle of Kraków when her father’s friend abandons her. She meets a tall stranger who speaks multiple languages and reminds Anna of her father, and ends up following him around Poland for years. But while the premise and the plot of the book are simple, there’s a lot that’s left to interpretation. And it was this aspect of the book that I enjoyed and felt moved by the most.

Although this is classified as a young adult novel, it had a very literary feel to it. The writing was beautiful and conveyed so many emotions, while still remaining simple and easy to read. There was very little dialogue and lots of description that really transported me to WWII Poland. I felt like I was there with Anna and the Swallow Man, trekking through the snow in the winter with an empty stomach. And books like these are my favourite to read because it’s very rare for me to read a book and feel like I’m experiencing everything that the characters are going through. The book had a very slow-paced historical fiction feel to it, so if you like the genre, you will enjoy the pacing of this book.

The plot of this book may seem banal to some readers, but I highly enjoyed every moment of Anna’s story. The Swallow Man takes Anna under his wing and the two of them set off on a journey around Poland. Though the Swallow Man seems to be leading Anna around with purpose, there doesn’t seem to be a destination and the two wander around aimlessly for years and years. We do get a small glimpse of the reason behind this trip around Poland towards the end of the book, but much of it is up to the interpretation of the reader. I’m very satisfied with my own interpretation of the conclusion of the story, which was why I enjoy this book so much. But I can also see readers not liking this novel at all because it can seem quite pointless.

Anna still was not certain what precisely was meant by this word “war,” but it seemed, at least in part, to be an assault on her cookie supply, and of this she simply could not approve.

Anna was a wonderful character. You really get to see her grow and mature quickly throughout the book. She starts off as an innocent little girl who isn’t really sure what the war really means and what it means to be on the run. But she quickly learns to shed her identity, to blend in, and to survive. I enjoyed seeing things from her perspective, and I enjoyed that we didn’t really get to see the things that Anna learnt and or went through in her first two years with the Swallow Man, but slowly got to see more as she matured. It showed her maturation and how she was starting to think for herself, rather than following and imitating the Swallow Man’s every action and order. It was wonderful to see her incorporate her experiences and her interactions with other people into her identity and personality. Anna is a character who you will want to root for, no matter what happens.

The relationship that she had with the Swallow Man was a unique and puzzling one. It was beautiful to see their connection and how they treated each other like father and daughter, despite the Swallow Man’s aloofness and the distance that they placed between them. They really felt like kindred spirits who were meant to share this tough journey together. The way that they took care of each other and were responsible for each other really moved me, and even destroyed me at certain parts of the book.

If you’ve read Anna and the Swallow Man, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you thought of the ending. I enjoyed the whole book immensely, especially the bond between Anna and the Swallow Man.