Monday, January 28, 2013

Harken by Kaleb Nation...

Title- Harken.
Author- Kaleb Nation.
Publish date- January 2013.
Publisher- Unknown.


What I thought:
I really did enjoy reading Harken- more, much more, than I expected to. (Expectations- be gone!)
The storyline was fast paced, interesting, unique, engaging and full of plot twists that I never saw coming. It is a surprising novel and full of unexpected turns, both in the plot and in the characters themselves.

Something I liked about this book was the fact that I didn't always like the (three main) characters, and this especially applies to the protagonist, Michael Asher, but that fact never stopped me from caring about his story, something I don't think I've ever found in a book.
He has many faults and is frustrating, often with little sense, but despite it all? I care about his character- there's a certain something in the writing that makes me care about these characters- I am rooting for them no matter what, and there is little that can change that now.
(Similar was said about Michael by the excellent CassJayTuck in her review of Harken, which you really should watch. )
This also applies to the said other two main characters, Thad and Callista; they both also have surprising depth and learning about them throughout the story was really wonderful- in the end I became more attached to them than I expected to, even though I definitely didn't love them all the time.

Another thing I really found interesting and liked (read: when it didn't creep me out too much), was the fact that during this story Kaleb constantly messes with the readers mind. It's a conspiracy novel, so I guess that's a given - I have no experiance here!- but at one point Michael muses how many stories have been wrongly told, how many people have been incriminated for things they didn't do, because the news is so wholly controlled (and not in a good way), and that made me think and consider that question and JUST WHAT? WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?

I really enjoyed the subtle romance in Harken- it never took over/away from the story and was really interesting, layered situation. Really it was a "hardly there at all" kind of romance, and I really loved that- some books seem to lose plot and just focus on the characters falling in love, and Harken did not do that at all.

And of course, at times (especially quite intense times during which things were intense) I could picture said author just chuckling to himself and leaving the readers in PERIL.

-just leaving us readers hanging as he stands to the side watching and loving every second of it. Am I being harsh? Who wouldn't enjoy controlling the chiffhangerness and only giving out small details when absolutely necessary?

Probably my only fault with Harken was the fact that the writing ocassionally repeat itself or would use the same word to describe a situation that had just been used- that happened quite a few times and made the story less smooth than it would otherwise have been, and there were a few times when I found the wording just to be a little off, which also slowed the story's flow, just a little.

Finally, I have to say that this book had one of the best media related releases I have ever seen- I follow Kaleb on youtube and he did a really fantastic job of promoting this book- I'm not sure how far out of the sphere it got Harken, but it sure got me pumped to read it, and that gets an honourable mention in this review.

This book is awesome. It is awesome. 
Join me in the wait for book 2?

Rating- Excellent.
I really loved Harken- overall there were was almost nothing that I didn't like and am now going to hide from all media until I can read the next book...
I can wait..
and start building that time machine, at the same time. 

Thank you to Kaleb Nation for this E-ARC.

Friday, January 25, 2013

About the blog- changes.

*This is not a review. Unless it's a review of a review, in which case MIND BLOWN.*

I've been thinking lately about what I hope to achieve from my blog, what I want to change about it, general matinence and improvements. Some of the things I want to work on/do more of/change/just point out are-

  • Do more personal reviews.

I get a lot of books from the library, and even buy myself a lot of books, and I don't like that I don't review some of the ones that I really love. I sometimes feel like I get weighed down with reviewing review books, so I don't review other books that I love. This is going to change.

  • Comment more.

I think we all know what it's like to get one of those comments- all comments, unless they're creepy spam, are fantastic, but some of my favourites are ones where you can tell the person has really connected with the content, and I want to do that for others. I don't comment enough, and I want to keep the love I feel for the fantastic bloggers out there coming!

  • Host more giveaways.

I love hosting giveaways, other than the time I had to re-draw one about 7 times because it was on a giveaway hop and NO ONE HAD READ THE RULES, APPARENTLY. That wasn't a fun giveaway. But I love getting people to do things they otherwise mightn't have, and all as a way to enter a competition. It's like giving them double happiness, and I get happiness out of it, too.

  • Work on a rating system.
I saw a fantastic system on Paper Riot, that was inspired by another blog and I think this kind of thing is the system for me. Numbers don't work and I briefly tried my own thing, but nothing has ever stuck. I went for ages without a rating system, but reviews have felt unfinished. This I'm thinking is going to work.

  • And finally- do more personal posts.

I did a guest post last year and had an absolutely incredible time writing that post, and I am still so proud of it, even though I didn't think it made much sense. I want to do more of that over here, try to connect with my readers in a more personal way than reviews.

So, a number by number goal list-
20 Personal Reviews.
Twelve giveaways.
Leave more nice comments. (No number)
Try out the new rating system. Properly.
20 Personal Posts.

Well, I'm going to bookmark this post and look at it January 2014 (2014!) and see if I have made these improvements. It's going to be interesting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Q&A + Giveaway with Melissa Keil, author of Life in Outer Space...

So today I'm doing a very special post which I'm literally buzzing with excitement about- I had the amazing oppertunity to do a Q&A with the fantastic Melissa Keil, author of Life in Outer Space, one of my favourite reads from 2012 (I was very lucky to receive an ARC- the novel comes out February this year, in Australia.)
My review of Life in Outer Space.And to make this whole thing extra awesome? I've been given one copy to give away! (Open AU/NZ only) Lets get to the questions and, more importantly, the answers!

Have you always wanted to be an author?
When I was a kid, I always loved the idea of being a writer; when I left high school I contemplated studying creative writing, but didn’t end up applying for any courses. I never really considered writing seriously until I started working in publishing. I wrote a lot when I was younger, but (apart from dabbling in bad poetry), I stopped writing when I became a teenager. I guess I never really saw it as something a normal person could do – other people wrote books, not anyone I knew. It was only once I started working in publishing – once I started meeting other authors and realising that normal people did do this thing for a job – that I started writing again. 

What was your first job?
I’ve had lots of different jobs – it took me a very long time to find what I wanted to do! I worked as a waitress through uni (all seven years that it took me to finish my degrees), and did lots of volunteer work backstage in community theatre, which I loved, as well as an assortment of odd jobs. After uni I was (very briefly) as a high school teacher, but was never very good at it (I loved the actual teaching part, but was hopeless at classroom management!) My first publishing job was as a production/editorial assistant and general office dogsbody. I got very lucky to be given a shot at being trained in editorial. It was actually a very lucky serious of events that lead me to publishing as a career, but I really can’t imagine doing anything other than making books. 

Is there a story behind you writing Life in Outer Space?
I had been working on a completed manuscript and was in the process of editing and redrafting it, but I’d been working on it for quite a while and was feeling a little burnt out. So I decided to set it aside and try and write something new; I had no idea what the ‘new’ thing was going to be, only that I wanted to write a romantic comedy. I used to meet a writer friend of mine every Sunday to write in a café, and this Sunday, I happened to see a poster for a horror film club on the café wall. Out of nowhere, the voice of Sam, my main character, was just there. The story really evolved from him.

You wrote and published a picture book before LiOS – why did you decide to go YA?
Well, when I started working in editorial, my training was mostly with YA manuscripts – back then, YA wasn’t really something I was overly familiar with, but I read everything I could get my hands on, and just fell in love with it. As a children’s editor, I do love great picture books (and I had a lot of fun working with my fabulous illustrator), but YA is really where my heart lies. 

Do you have plans for more YA novels in the future?
Lots of plans! I’m working on a second YA contemporary at the moment, but it is still in the early drafting and research stage. I’m really excited about getting to know these new characters though. 

Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
I think it takes time to find your style and voice; every writer has a bottom drawer filled with unfinished manuscripts and writing that makes them cringe, but all that writing serves a purpose. Like anything, learning how to write takes time and lots of practise. I guess my advice would be don’t be afraid to be really bad at it – if you’re serious about a career as a writer, all that ‘bad’ writing is how you learn to write well. There is no rush to get something ‘out there’; that first manuscript you finish may not be the one to send out to a publisher, but it may be the one that inspires some really great writing. Also, I can’t overemphasise how valuable it’s been to be part of a writing group – writing a novel can be a really lonely process, and having other writers to bounce idea around with, and who can give you honest feedback on developing your work, is amazing.

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Melissa! I can't wait to read more of your work.
Thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont, I have one copy of Life in Outer Space to giveaway to someone in Australia or New Zealand- to enter, simply follow the instructions on the rafflecoptor.
Open in Australia/NZ only.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Books for when you're... (1)

This is a new series of posts that I've been thinking about for... not very long, but that does not decrease my passion and excitement for them!

Each week 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.

I even made a image specially. See- I'm committed to this now.

No time to start like the present, so lets get right into the gritty stuff...

Books For When You're Going Through A Break Up*-

    Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler.
    Why I chose this book:
Now this is either going to seem like the obvious choice, or the complete opposite.  "A book about      someone explaining a break up? Excellent!" "A book about someone explaining a break up? I think I need not go there." And yet I will go there.
Why We Broke Up isn't a story that will weigh you down with sorrow- it's not a story that wallows in the sadness of the break up it deals with, but rather one that sees both the best and worst parts about a time of your life which you shared with someone you loved. This is a story where, in the very first page, our main character Min says the reason they broke up was because she loved Ed "too god-damn much." She loved him more than he loved her, and that's why they broke up. You may think, okay, end of story, but far from it. There's so much to this novel that inspires, that I think would help you get back onto your feet if you're really trying to move on but haven't quite been able to.
It's not for everyone, granted, but it was for me. If I ever go through a break up- nope, not 100% qualified to write this because I haven't- I'll go to this book.

*I'm thinking the when you're no longer with said person and wanting to move on, but aren't quite there yet.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blogspiration (12) Keeping Track.

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author’s choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

There's this really awesome website that I bet none of you have ever heard of. Even once. 
It's called goodreads and it's a place to log your books, to see what friends are reading, to read and write reviews, and more besides.

It's an inspiring and great place. And books. 

*Don't worry, I actually know most of you use goodreads on a weekly/daily basis, but I personally have come to think of it as just being there, something I use but don't really feel all that much thankfullness for, and it's awesome. So lets love it.*

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blogspiration (11) The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author’s choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

This week I'm sharing a fantastic show that's been going for 9 months- I've been watching it from the beginning and it's since got quite big, and things are getting super intense and you've got to watch it.
I introduce you to- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Happy blogspiration and prepair to spend the next five days doing nothing else.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A few favourite bookish things from 2012.

Top ten favourite books. (All in no particular order)

Top 5 let down books.

Top heroine/heros.
Katniss, Peeta, Finnick and Annie from The Hunger Games series.
Lyra, Iorek, Will, Pan and Serafina from His Dark Materials series.
The Baudelaire siblings from A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Book I knew basically nil about when I got it, but loved it.

Cover that best suits the book.

Top 5 kickass characters.
Hazel-Grace Lancaster from TFiOS by John Green.
Mara Dyer and Noah Shaw from The Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin.
Cealena Sardothien from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

3 Massive cliffhangers.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil.

Title- Life in Outer Space.
Author- Melissa Keil.
Publish date- February 2013.
Publisher- Hardie Grant Egmont- The Ampersand Project.



What I thought:
I'm not sure what I expected when I came into this book- I try to go into things expectationless, that's a big goal for me, but it doesn't often happen- I'd had a rough two months (I am excused one as it was NaNo) with reading and had been daying AGES to finish single books. (I mean, Reached by Ally Condie took me 3 weeks!)
I am starting to think that I have a yearly thing where I have a few really slow weeks/months with reading- it happened last year and it's happened this year, so it's what I'll go for for now- last year the book to save me was Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and this year... This year it was Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil.

I can feel myself about to write a lot of "seriouslys" and "MIND BLOWNS", so I'm going to try and, no doubt fruitlessly, control my emotions as I write a hopefully vagualy coherent review.

I felt many times over while reading that the synopsis for the book didn't properly represent the book, I felt like it was a total misrepresentation and so I wrote a different one (up top) which I think tells it more like it is.

I really love a book where the characters, especially the main, have hobbies- it makes it feel like they haven't just been created for the time they are main stage (or in other words, while their story lasts) and this is one of the most extrodinary examples of that- so many of the characters had such detailed and important past times, and though I can't immediately relate to any of them, I adored reaidng of them and will during every re-read. So I'm not a horror fan like Sam- I am a period drama fan. He writes scripts (words) and I write stories (words). We are soul children.
(Also Mike- I really liked his character and the way things around/with him played out- overall for the characters progression I was really pleased)

I love the cover for this novel- the copy I received was an ARC so it's a black and white cover, and at first I was a little disappointed because I love the bright cover so much, but as I continued to make my way through the novel I ended up liking this dark cover so much more than the one that will be in stores- it's beautiful and leaves to much up to the imagination and just looks like it's somewhere in space. The cover, either way, it awesome. It is a cover that is awesome in any colour scheme.

I love the way each chapter is titled with refrences- it bought a certain something to the book that I loved.

So much love- but is there any hate? 
Not as such- there are a few lilttle things that I didn't like about the book, like the ocassional ridiculousness of Sam (which was amusing and at times trying, but understandable) and the cliches that were dotted about the place, but this is a book I am standing by, and ain't no one gonna take me down.

If, in each country, there is a novelist that it the equivalent of John Green, I am thinking that Melissa Keil might be the Australian one, in some way or another. I'm not swearing to anything until I've read another of her novels, but it's looking likely.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 Book and Blogging Survey.

1. Best Book You Read In 2012?
Overall it was The Hunger Games Trilogy, which I read for the first time. (Catching Fire, to be specific.)
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Insurgent by Veronica Roth- I was really disappointed with it and spent so much of the duration of my reading being annoyed with the characters. And also Reached by Ally Condie- it was a let down, especially so as I loved Matched. Oh, and What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang- mega disappointment.
 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 
My Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil- I thought I would probably like it, but it bought me out of my reading slump and has my eternal grattitude. Also The Fault in Our Stars- it was my first John Green and I didn't think I woud like it...
 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
It would probably be TFiOS/John Green novels, THG series or The Book Thief.
 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
Again, The Hunger Games. I also found the Mara Dyer series, which I adore!
 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
John Green, Markus Zusak, Suzanne Collins, Melissa Keil...
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I think it would have to be The Unbecoming & The Evolution of Mara Dyer- it's Paranormal/Supernatural YA and a little creepy/slightly horror feelingey, but I adore it. Doubt I would read anything else in the genre, but this is the best!
 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
The Fault in our Stars. And every other John Green book.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?
The Fault in our Stars and Why We Broke Up.
I guess I kind of like simplicity in covers- these two are my standout favourites and I just really love everything about them, especially how they suit the books and tell a little story in themselves.
11. Most memorable character in 2012? 
Finnick Odair from Catching Fire Mockingjay, Lyra Blacqua from His Dark Materials series and Coraline from the book of the same name.
 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?
The Book Thief and Why we Broke up- both incredible and I really liked the way they were written.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 
Coraline and THG series- Coraline is a book I wish I had read when I was younger, but still being reasonably youthful it is still one that I'm really glad I read now; it's got a lot of lessons and so many will stick by me. The Hunger Games really made me question the way the world is moving and those are questions I don't know when/in what way I would have asked.
 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman- I've been wanting to read it for so long and it surpassed all expectations.
 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 
I've got hundreds, hundreds of favourite quotes from books I read last year, so picking just one (or a few) is torture. Basically everything from Looking for Alaska and TFiOS by John Green, because his books are so quotable,  but also The Book Thief.
 16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 
Longest — Either Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix or The Amber Spyglass.
Shortest — I think that was Tales of Beedle the Bard.
 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
A certain underground scene in Mockingjay, Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix at the ministry (I'd listened to the audio but never read it and the feels!) and The Book Thief. In it's entirety.
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Finnick and Annie from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, Hazel and Augustus from TFiOS, and Noah and Mara from The Unbecoming/The Evolution of Mara Dyer.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
Why we broke up by Daniel Handler. So stunningly different and so amazingly wonderful and ahhhhh.
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Probably The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, because John Green said in a video how much he loved it and I decided to read it without knowing anything about it. That, my friends, is dedication to an author.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012 


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012? 
I think my two new favourites would have to be Novel SoundsSaz101 and Alexandrasscribblings.
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 
Probably my review of A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan, which I really enjoyed writing, and my most recent one which was for The Evolution of Mara Dyer, in which I was a fan.
3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
Everything that came from Blogspiration posts.
4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
Something Alexandra posted as part of Blogspiration a while back...  the idea that you can only love someone, not save them, was really thought provoking to me and we both shared our points on the subject, which I found even more thought provoking and interesting.
5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Blogspiration- it's been incredibly fun and I've found a lot of new blogs from it, so that.
6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?
Expanding my reviews and becoming really happy with my blog overall.
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My review of TFiOS was quite popular (a review I will no doubt update/do again this year).
8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I mean, it's quite a negative review, but I would have loved to start up a conversation about the book Between the Lines.
9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Collaging quotes and rediscovering Artemis Fowl on audio.
10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I read over 100 books, which was a small goal and one I didn't pay much attention to. I set my eyes a little high when writing my booklist for 2012 and didn't reach that by far, so I'm going down a dozen steps or so this year.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
The sequel to Swallows and Amazons and Anna Karenina. Must read before I see the movie.
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
Probably The Retribution of Mara Dyer, because why not.
3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
I want to do more personal posts, not solely reviews, and I want to read more classics.