Thursday, September 26, 2013

Plotting a Takeover: Character Buys 2.

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

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  Featuring *Spoilers* for the book.
Focusing on Antoine.

This one actually has a picture of the prince on it, and I certainly think he would have been commemorated in such a way.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.

Title- Princess Academy #1.
Author- Shannon Hale.
Publish date- July 2013.
Publisher- Bloomsbury Australia.


What I thought:
I read this when I was eight or nine years old and it was one of those books that A. feels like a very mature read and B. one you think of fondly when you remember it, but otherwise you mostly don't think of or remember it.
I had, however, put it on my re-read list and had been planning to read it for a while when a review copy turned up for me- it was a total surprise, and a lovely one.

The plot and characters were all fairly similar to how I remembered, but there were also sections and people I didn't recall, which made it feel more like a new story, not one I had previously read.

My main trouble with the book was the edition- the cover redesign (I long ago read this (link to wikipedia) one, and it's so perfect to my mind) just really disappoints me. It's very pink and flowery and, well, you can see it above. This was the first book that made me squirm to read in public, just for the totally unsuitable, again in my mind, cover. If I had to classify it for an age group I would say 75 percent MG and 25 YA, and yet I think the plot and the characters would be suited to a wide range of audiences, and I really feel like this cover doesn't promote that.

The characters aren't necessarily spectacular, but they are easy to become fond of and all the Academy girls have a story- a unique one at that- to tell, and the enjoyment I get when thinking back to the things I learnt about them all from snippets along the way is strong.
Miri, the protagonist, was a little slow at picking up things- she would get the initial idea, something very clever and ingenious (esp. for her age), but the follow-through was laborious and I did, at times, become surprised because I thought she had already worked it out. (Probably due to the fact she has a slightly indecisive nature- she made a decision at one point and it felt very settled, but a chapter later it was suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, up in the air again.)

Rating: Ooh, very good.
I didn't like it this time as much as I did when I read it "all those years ago" because it had such an element of nostalgia to it, but I still enjoyed the story and found it pleasurable following the tracks once trodden once more.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for this review copy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Books for when you're... (12)

Wanting to weep unashamedly.
(*Spoilers almost certainly present*)
I myself am not one to weep when it comes to written or televised things. I have only ever actually shed read tears which went down my cheeks and all during one film and one christmas special for a certain BBC series, and that last one was mostly horrified laughter mixed with disbeieving tears, so it hardly counts. Bookwise, it's only ever happened twice, maybe three times- once on a re-read this year and once when reading a book last year. Those three books are the features. Tear ducts- be ready.

Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling.
Why I chose this book:
(Remember that spoiler warning- that is still a thing)
So this is my favourite book of the Harry Potter series. It has incredibly wonderful characters introduced and splendid scenes, it's (I think) the longest and has such a powerful scene towards the end that just really gets me in the oh-my-I'm-crying-now-aren't-I places. Luna is introduced and Sirius is taken away; her introduction is the game maker for me (I'm going to pretend I know what that even means), but the scene where Sirius dies is just... it's so moving and well written and it just makes me so overwhelmed that I may have partially sobbed when I read it. Silent sobbing, of course. I had to be able to keep reading.

Love Aubrey - Suzanne LaFleur. 
Why I chose this book:
I re-read this a few months ago and, as I said in my review, I had such a different experience this time around- I understood things in different ways and just felt so very moved, in such a different way than I had previously been. Aubrey's story is a very moving one and it's got so many scenes where you just begin to slowly choke up. It's inevitable.

Black Heart Blue - Louisa Reid.
Why I chose this book:
This is such an incredibly tear worthy book. It's not a nice one, the story is horribly sad and so, so real, that is just makes it so much more painful. It's a very difficult read because of how personal it seems, how it seems like you're reading about such true to life experiences. It's really well done, but dreadfully sad.

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

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Curious Dictionary by Nick Earls and Terry Whidborne.

Title- Word Hunters: The Curious Dictionary #1.
Author- Nick Earls and Terry Whidborne.
Publish date- August 2012.
Publisher- University of Queensland Press.


What I thought:
There are lots of things about this book that made me excited to read it, but the overwhelming one is that it's about words.
I adore words- finding out names and meanings of new ones, word etymology and through I am not a frequent visitor of them, dictionaries fill me with such a delightful sense of joy. And hope, too. As soon as I heard about Word Hunters I was sold- it has a really neat cover to boot- because it is all those things and more and I was sure joy would spring forth, that a new love was about to be acquired.

Unfortunately... that's not quite how it went.
I was expecting something that, though being a MG read, would appeal to more than a single audience- a series of unfortunate events style- but that wasn't so.

The two main characters were very irritating and fairly clueless, and they just did things that made no sense, picked up on very obvious things at a painfully slow rate and practifcally from the beginning I found it really hard to follow the story with the siblings narrating.

The pace of the book was quite awkward for me, too- there are (this is possibly a spoiler, so watch out) multiple adventures in the single book, and in each adventure to save a different word the characters would go through three-four different time periods, which was very interesting but the characters only stayed in one time/place for around 10-20 pages, which gave hardly any time to settle in.

The etymology was pretty interesting, though- for me, at least, though I can't say the same for the characters- but it was fairly basic and I would've liked a little more detail and background in each section.

Rating: Oh nooo/Poor.
Overall this was really not the book for me. I have no desire to continue the series, but if readers can enjoy the two protagonists dialouge/narrating , I think this is a great introduction to a further keenness in learning about words and all that etymological jazz.

Thank you to UQP for this review copy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The First Third by Will Kostakis.

Title- The First Third.
Author- Will Kostakis.
Publish date- July 2013.
Publisher- Penguin AU.


What I thought:
The First Third is an interesting story about a young man who has to take on his grandmothers bucket list for her when she becomes hospitalised; it's an original story with thought-provoking themes- to me personally the most interesting was the gradual separation of family, due, in large, just to the progression of time- yet even with these alluring themes, The First Third didn't work out all that well for me.

For the most part the book semed to really just plod along, not really bringing me into the story at any one time, which left me almost completely unbothered by the things that transpired in it's latter half.
The characters didn't help this. Bill, the protagonist, frustrated me quite a lot, despite his good intentions; he did end up deciding to sacrifice things for his family, showing just how much he would truly do to bring everyone back together, but to me it didn't seem as if that was the only way. It might have helped, but he made a huge sacrifice and I really was more annoyed by his choice than inspired.

A couple of other characters are dotted about, but between the lot of them (and these the most consistently mentioned)- Bill's: mother, two older brothers, best friend, and Yiayia- I only really warmed to his grandmother, or Yiayia; with her amusing sayings, which become instant anecdotal fodder for Bill, she shone out as the star of the book, and if she had been the most prominent character I would no doubt have liked this one all the time.

One part which left me incredibly confused was when Lucas, or Sticks- Bill's best friend- suddenly starts talking about how he is gay, when (or so I recall) it hadn't even been hinted at prior to that. It was the basis for a really important conversation between the two friends and having had no heads up made it pretty confusing- Bill's older brother, for example, is also gay and that was a topic that came around numerous times.

Finally, I close with this: there is a character called "Sargent Cockburn."
The "ck" is silent.

Rating: Whatever comes in between Poor and Oh Nooo....
To pick my three favourite things about the book is an easy task-
Title, Cover, Greek-Grandmother.
Unfortunately, these don't feature more than, at a stretch, 30% of the time.

Thank you to Penguin Australia for this review copy!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse Near.

Title- Fairytales for Wilde Girls.
Author- Allyse Near.
Publish date- June 2013.
Publisher- Random House Australia.


What I thought:
I found this, initially at least (by which I mean for the first 200 pages, or there about- it could actually have been closer to 300 pages of this 420 page book), an incredibly confusing read. I really couldn't find my place in the story for such a long time and as I continued reading and not settling in, I continued to get more and more unenthusiastic about the story.

The story itself was quite hard to find, or maybe understand, the actual plot of; for me it was difficult to see where things were going, and the protagonist, Isola, was quite an unstable character, one I wasn't sure I could trust to keep leading me the right way. When, however, I buckled down and made myself finish the book by a deadline, I soon became intwined and emersed in the story, which is quite twisted and became very compelling.

If I had to describe the story in five words they could be- Dreamlike. Sinister. Harsh. Beautiful. Terrifying.
Similarly, if I described all of the characters in only five words they would be: Are they all alive? No.

Nor are they all particularly likable, apart from a creature called Bunny and a boy called Edgar.
Isola and her princes- a fury, revengeful mermaid, a faerie and two ghosts who have all come together to protect and love Isola as brothers in a fairytale she admires- are difficult and often terrifying characters, ones who have uneasy pasts and, for a lot of them, brutal presents.

One thing that doesn't dissipate in the way my initial dislike for this book did is a very brief scene- at one point Isola is at a dress up party and I was unsatisfied when she is quoted as scribbling words in "whore-red lipstick"- is that a readily available shade, or...?

I was certainly surprised when I found myself starting to flow with the story, a thing I hadn't expected by that time, but I think it was worth the difficult beginning to get to that stage. I was really blown away by the book, if primarily the latter half, and have plans for it tto stay in my bookshelf for a long time.

Rating: Ooh, very good/Excellent.
It took time getting me there, but once I found myself taken in by the dark story it was such an incredibly experience. Beautiful and haunting.

Thank you to Random House Australia for this review copy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Books for when you're... (11)

Each fortnight I will showcase 1-2 books that I think would be fantastic reading if you're going through a  certian emotion/stage in your life.

Having trouble getting into the holiday spirit.
I know what it's like: It's only a few days until christmas and you're just. not. feeling it. That is why there are christmas books, and this is where I come in to tell you the ones that will undoubtably help.

Dash and Lily - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.
Why I chose this book:
I read it the beginning of this year and just wished so strongly that I had read it in December because it would have been PERFECT. Set during the days before (and after) christmas it tells a really joyful and lighthearted story and there are christmas:
treats, lights, stores, themed costumes and SPIRIT.
It's really a lovely read and the characters are very enjoyable, especially as ONE DOESN'T LIKE CHRISTMAS.

Let it Snow- Green, Johnson, Myracle.
Why I chose this book:
I can't remember what month I read this, but I enjoyed it and though it doesn't have such a big focus on christmas, as such, it unique. I didn't like Lauren Myracle's story, so didn't read it, but I loved how the stories, though being about all different characters, came together slowly and made sense as a whole. It's nice.

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