Sunday, November 29, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (8) See you next year. But not.

It's here. Well... tomorrow it'll be here. But today is my last day blogging until February. My last bout of commenting and reading of others' blog posts. My last post! I have put up a list of my intended reads over the last couple years, but I'm reserving that for Instagram. Possibly I am always too much of a high achiever, but two months *is* an awful long time.

Thank you, everyone, for voting last week! I am now dedicated towards using each name at some point, but the winner was Fintan (with Finn used as the occasional shortening) and that is the name you'll find in Ashes, Ashes when he appears.
In other news? I've, ahh, just posted the Prologue. You can read it and everything, in it's 500+ wordiness. This is the beginning of a process that has already carried me many weeks, at least eight of which I have shared here, with you- and your support has helped me keep going, helped me love this story more than I ever did. I can't thank you enough for all your support and love. Because of you, I added a dinosaur scene, I got a new character name that I love, and I have the strength and joy to be able to announce I'm sharing my work in this incredible online space, and will be for the next thirteen weeks (a chapter a week, you know). I can't really believe it, and I can't thank each of you who have commented and supported me enough.

And now... this is goodbye, for two months. Of course, you can read Ashes, Ashes as I post it on WattPad (you do have to make an account to be able to read my/anyone else's work there, though, so take note), and see how many books I'm planning to read over on my Instagram, but otherwise? Have a gorgeous Summer/Winter, many seasonal hugs and I'll see you in 2016.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The end of my year is nigh.

So let's talk about books. Since I go offline at the end of November, and have the last couple of years, I... kinda haven't talked about my favourite books of the year in a while. I come back online and see the December posts I miss out on reading (and writing) but by February it feels too late, and besides I always have a bunch of reviews to post, so I haven't been noting my yearly favourite and notable reads for a while. Years, even.

Until now. Obviously I should be in a dramatic movie of sorts. Yes, it is November. Yes, I will read more books before the year is out. But I still thought heh, I'll do a round-up. For once I SHALL BE FIRST.

Books read: 
137. (My goal is 153, I believe.)

Most were rated:
Four stars, which is fairly pleasing. I mean, I'd love a year where 80% of my reads were five stars, but four stars is certainly nothing to grumble about.

How many five star books did you read?
27! That's actually fairly fabulous. Even if eight of those were manga. IT. COUNTS. (It does.)

How many one star books?
A total of 14. (Which is the same amount as last year, actually.) And three of them? Were from the same series

Most shelved?
"Series" and "young adult" were my most frequently used shelves. Apparently I didn't read as many "quote worthy" books this year as last. *sobs*

Longest book?
Ava's Demon by Michelle Czajkowski (which I reviewed here). It is gorgeous and you can read it online and you should.

Favourite book out of all the books?
That'd be Dumplin' (which I reviewed here). I loved it to pieces. It was just... imperfect and gorgeous and so, so right. I also adored and cherished the manga series' I've read (FB, Ouran, Wandering Son, A Bride's Story) and Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. It was beyond words incredible.

Favourite book that was: part of a series?
The Boy who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente. It was heartbreaking and gorgeous and although I desperately missed September and the lack of her presence, it was just... unsurprisingly wonderful. Also It was between Waistcotes and Weaponry by Gail Carriger, which is thus far my favourite book in the series. So good.

Favourite book that was: a debut?
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, since I believe it was her first work. For this year it'd be Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which stuns everyone (and me) in being contemporary.

Favourite character?
I'll give you five-

Favourite book that was: fantasy?
Because hey, it's my favourite genre.
Pantomime by Laura Lam. It was absolutely gorgeous and just... aah! Definitely would recommend to everybody.

Favourite cover?
I adore The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy, but also the whole cover design for A Bride's Story. G-o-r-g-e-o-u-s.

Most read author?
Natsuki Takaya, author of Fruits Basket. As of now, I've read 20 of the 23 volumes this year.

New favourite author?
Need you ask? Banana Yoshimoto. I'm in love.

Favourite manga?
Although of recent times I've been devouring Fruits Basket, I did finish Ouran High School Host Club in January-February this year and it HOLDS MY HEART. Volumes 17 and 18? SOBBING.

I feel like I've had a really good year in reading, looking at this! A couple more weeks until my internet hibernation and a whole month more, after that, of reading- hopefully I find a good few more favourites and reach my reading goal.

*What has been your... most surprising read/favourite cover of this year?*

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken...

Publish date- July, 2015.
Publisher- Hardie Grant Egmont/Chirpy Bird.
RRP- $17.95

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A retelling of the classic, the magnificent, the Star Wars film that really started it all. We delve into who the people behind the names are, having time to get to know and understand The Princess, The Scoundrel and The Farm Boy.

Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for this review copy!
Image Credit: Hardie Grant Egmont.

What I thought:
The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy really, really had me hooked. From the gorgeous design of the cover to when I saw Alexandra Bracken's post discussing the book that made me understand I was going to be reading something that was not just a retelling, of sorts, of a film I loved, but a book about the people behind the titles, about Leia behind a "princess" and Han behind a "scoundrel". I hadn't really considered what the book would be, but as soon as I read her post I couldn't wait to slide into the story.

It is geared towards a Middle Grade audience and I have to say I'd have enjoyed it more if it was YA or adult. Having Leia, Han and Luke toned in a way that didn't make them feel quite how they did in the film left me a little unhappy- besides the discussions on who they all are, all of them having issues with the titles they've been given or born into and wanting to find out who they are -beyond- those monikers, there were elements in each story that just didn't feel like they sat right with the one I already knew, especially with Han's part; he's my favourite character and perhaps I'm very sensitive to him, because of that, but the way it was gone over numerous times that he really did want to join the rebels, he really did care and felt hurt that Luke thought he only cared about money... I wasn't really into that. I got the feeling Han was trying to be painted as a good character, despite the less than typically heroic things he does, which felt unnecessary to me. I guess I don't feel like he cares about being seen as redeemable or redeemed.

The fact this was MG, apart from those elements where the characters thought and acted in ways that felt out of place, didn't really affect the storyline. It felt mostly true to the original (and death wasn't sacrificed) and was super enjoyable for me to read and get into the heads of the characters as they each had their part in the story. It's also not a classic "retelling", as I had believed it would be. We're not getting A New Hope retold, we're just spending time with specific characters for specific amounts of time and getting the story we may already know, but also extra bits about them and their history, their feelings and thoughts.
Starting with Leia, whose part was brilliance and gorgeous and my absolute favourite, the story begins at the beginning. Her part, sadly, is the shortest, but it's really just glory to behold and the ending... the ending was stunning, just with the wording and everything. I really loved the way Alexandra Bracken got us into Leia's head and dealt with her history and all the misconceptions and pressure, presumption and guilt Leia has thrust upon her, and the way we find out who Leia is behind Princess, Senator, Rebel... it was stunning.
Then we have Han, whose part I was... looking forward to. A lot. As I said earlier, I wasn't wholly happy with the way he was painted, but I still enjoyed his part and getting into that thought process and part of the story, which focuses on his meeting with Luke and the Death Star business.
Luke has never been a favourite character of mine. I find him pretty annoying and in general wasn't all that pumped for his part in this. It did feel like he was the youngest and that probably does fit with his character in the film, but it still meant I found him a little annoying. Although I have to say, I liked him more than I ever have before!

Rating: Excellent.
I did have my issues with this. I'd have enjoyed it more if it weren't really aligned with a particular age group, but I still enjoyed it splendidly. It's not a retelling, as such, but it isn't just the plot of A New Hope in book form. It's more than that, and it is so worth reading.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (7) Vote for a character name!

Soon the time to start posting Ashes, Ashes will be upon me (which means you should follow me on WattPad in preparation). I'm still vaguely considering when I'll start posting, since I plan to post a chapter every week and yet it all begins in December, so do I post the first chapter Sunday the 29th, or the first Sunday in December? Or just on the first of December and every sunday after that. Likely it'll be option number last.

I finished editing Ashes the week before last, I think- or, rather, I finished my reread/edit which was more of an edit but is still the last thing I'm doing for it. I added a scene with dinosaurs, redefined the romance and romantic elements, worked out where I needed and viably should have some swear words (because I may have gone a little too all out in my first edit) and realised that a secondary character didn't have a name I liked and now remains unnamed.
I got some awesome suggestions for a faintly Irish name last week, so please comment with your favourite from the ones I compiled below! (I was going to use a poll but... I can't find one I like in the blogger apps, so we'll just have to do with this.)

And here are the three names you can vote for. I will totally pick whoever has the most people vying for them, so you are basically deciding on my entire book's content (not really, but close)- MY FATE IS IN YOUR HANDS PLEASE CHOOSE WISELY OTHERWISE I'LL COMBUST.

The character who'll be getting the name is of Irish descent, he's got a little brother called Tommy, is fiercely caring of his brother and the two siblings somehow managed to break through Allison's tough exterior in the early days, which is a remarkable feat- so obviously he's a persistant one. The three once worked together as agents, although after an accident this character was removed from the ranks and holds a different position. He's sweet and can still smile after having his arm separated from his body (which... happens, as per the magic of flashbacks),

Fintan. (This is incredibly pretty and, like the other two options, would suit the character perfectly.

Finn. (This makes me wonder why "F" names were popular suggestions. I do love this one. He could definitely be a Finn.)

Irke. (It'd be pronounced Irk-ah. This, clearly, is my own recommendation, simply because I saw the word "irks" and wanted to try and make it into a name because it is pretty and interesting. I'll totally use this as a character name in the future, whatever happens.)

Please do contribute to helping me name this character! I'll only endlessly bug you if you don't. *smiles vapidly*

Friday, November 20, 2015

Blogversary? What Blogversary?

Possibly my blogversary has been one of my most thought about (and talked about) events of the year, apart from releasing my novel, Ashes, Ashes, on WattPad. I've been anticipating it for... a good while, and the fact I haven't celebrated the last four-ish only means that I've got more celebrating to do this time around.

Each of my years blogging have been distinct. Well. Most of them. Here's a brief rundown:

Year 1: This is the year I started! It was all the excitement, working out how to review books, posting about whatever I felt like and realising I wanted to write a personal blog as well.

Year 2: Was about reviewing professionally. I also really started to focus on my writing, this year, doing my first ever NaNo.

Year 3: Is the year I don't remember. What even happened? My memory draws a blank. Obviously it was either a huge party, or... not.

Year 4: This was when I started becoming more distinct in my own blog, I think. I focused on things other than just reviewing, doing my own features and commenting on more blogs than ever before, which meant I met a ton of awesome fellow bloggers!

Year 5: Has arguably been my favourite. I shared my writing, I decided to post a novel online, I made the decision to focus more on my own writing, here, than reviewing (although there's still both) and I made really, really fantastic new friends and strengthened relationships with old ones. It's all been good times.

Of course, with my blogversary comes the marker of my annual histus. In ten days I'll be shutting off my computer and putting my blog on pause until February. I will be sporadically online, mostly just for work purposes and posting Ashes, which will have a chapter posted every Sunday, but the blog will be silent until sometime in February when I drag myself (and I always do drag, because the glory of two months offline? It can't really be beaten) back.

So this is it. Five years. Half a decade, as Joy informed (and terrified) me. It feels like it's been hardly any time at all, but also like it's been years and years. And these years have been intense and gorgeous and heady and moving. I've changed. I've feared my past and my present and my future. I haven't loved every moment- some moments I hardly thought I'd come out the other side. But I did. And I am so, so glad.

I love this community, and this experience, and you people. I love you and it all to bits.

And hey, I didn't think I would but what's a blogversary without a competition? If you live in Australia and fancy your chances at winning a postpak of books (not new, but in excellent condition) then enter away. Best of luck to you. And thank you for such a fabulous five years.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mini Reviews (17)

Where's the Wookiee- Ulises Farinas.
My love for Star Wars is intense. It knows no bounds (it does) and leads me into brilliance and sorrow (what do you mean the Queen Amidala Funko is unavailable?). Where's the Wookiee, it's a classic step in that love/passion direction, and such a wonderful idea! I grew up reading Where's Wally (or Waldo, as it's known in the US and Canada) and playing Star Wars, so give me some Wally figurines because then the role reversal is complete.

Basically, Where's the Wookiee has you searching the far reaches of the galaxy, from Hoth to the Death Star, the Ewok Village (probably my favourite) to Cloud City, finding the most treacherous villains known to the galaxy. Instead of Wally, Wands, Whitebeard and Odlaw, you have Chewie, Han, Gredo and Bobba Fett for starters. I did my best just to find Chewie and Han, although Gredo and Bossk were both easy to pick out, but... Chewie is hard! He blends in super well. I also enjoyed seeing R2, Leia and Yoda dotted throughout.

All in all, I enjoyed this quite a lot. I would've liked a bit more detail in regards to the art, which I didn't fel was the best representation of the detail and style of the series, but overall it was pretty wonderful and a neat introduction to the world of Star Wars.

Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for this review copy!
Image source: Hardie Grant Egmont.

The Secret of the Blue Glass- Tomiko Inui.
It's always disappointing when you get to the end of a book and realise your favourite thing about it wasn't the story, the characters, even the writing, but the cover. Unfortunately that's what happened with The Secret of the Blue Glass, a classic in Japan and originally published in the late fifties, now published in English by Pushkin Classics. To begin with I certainly did thing that by the end of it there would be a different story- I was captivated by the beauty and lyricism of the writing, the unique tone to the story. It is very similar to The Borrowers in there being this family of tiny people who live in a house and rely on the big people for their livlihood, although the relationship between families is rather different here, as the family knows their responsibility to keeping the little people alive by putting out a glass of milk every night.

It was an intensely interesting story- it takes place around the time of the second World War, starting a little before and then carrying on throughout- and that setting, plus the tone of the family and their conflicts with what Japan was doing, what they believed was right, it was just really interesting and intriguing for me, but... unfortunately it ended up moving from softly beautiful to quite boring. I couldn't hold onto my interest in the story and it felt like it turned rather dull, the story moving along simply and not really having any great pull towards me wanting to read it, find out what happened or enjoy it. I really lost grips with it and although I did finish it, I struggled and a couple chapters from the end considered DNFing because I just was not into it.

I think, in the end, I was affected by growing up with The Borrowers- this felt really similar and, although the dynamics weren't the same, there wasn't a single element that made it stand out or made me fall in love with it, after that intial phase. The cover, though, is absolutely stunning.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image source: Allen and Unwin NZ.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (6)

It's that time of year when I end up posting either most days, or fewer days than intended. My blogversary is coming up (5 years! *fistpump*) in four days and I was going to have a celebration, because parties are fun and I have lots of review copies I'd like to giveaway, but... christmas shopping. That and postage prices makes it unlikely.
I've only got a couple more weeks before I go onto my third yearly hiatus until february, though, although I'll still be online irregularly- I'll have WattPad posting to do, work rostering to check, that kind of thing. No IG or blogging, though, so don't expect to see me around much, come December!

After the list of things you won't be finding in Ashes, Ashes last week, Vlora set me the task of sharing a particular range of snippets after she correctly guessed that you actually will find poisoned blades in the story. Although after some persuasive commenting, there are also dionsaurs. *shrugs*
So, without further ado, here are some more snippets!

1. Something funny.

" guy did actually try to make a gift of a knife to me, which was pretty nice.’
‘He tried to stab you?’ Pepper squeaks, like she can hardly believe it.
‘Not quite,’ a girl Allison thinks she recognises from her languages classes says, stopping as she walks past. ‘He gifted it to her- pretty nice one, too, wasn’t it?’ Allison nods. It had been very nice, gilt and ivory and all the best things. ‘Apparently he'd had a bet on with the homophobe’s mother. She thought his behaviour was just mumps or something.’

‘We should have employed that man,’ Allison muses serenely."

2. Something dangerous.

"‘So,’ --- says, striding closer as the blades hover just centimeters from Allison’s eyes. ‘What was it I heard dad tried to rid you of?’ She raises her eyebrows expectantly and tuts when Allison doesn’t answer, gun held frozen in place, knives obscuring her vision. ‘Oh come on, Allison, it’ll only cut out your eyes if you’re not quick enough.’"

3. Something angsty.

‘It’s not that I... I didn’t realise you disliked me that much or else I-’
‘I can’t stand you.’ She puts down the paper, crossing her arms on the hard gloss of the table. ‘Not in a working environment. And I can’t stand the fact that I’ve just kept on putting up with you.’
‘But Allison, we’re the best.’

‘And so we’ll split before we become too notorious, latch on to two new people and make them the best with us.’ She shrugs, as if it could ever be so easy as that."

4. Something action-y.

Her face drops all expression as she flows into motion, limbs moving to her exact determination and not a milimetre less. She kicks out sharply, her dirty black boot catching ---(male)--- neatly to the neck, sending him crashing into the control panel and initiating a sickening descent for the plane; she goes low, elbow darting into the woman’s exposed flank with delicious intent. ---(female)--- cries out, growling as she hunkers down, clutching the side that will soon be bruising magnificently and still taking the time to throw her fist out. It’s weak and Allison really only has to sidestep, walking over to where ---(male)--- is still unconsciously sending the plane into a perilous descent and pushing him to the floor with a shake of her head.

5. Wild card. (I chose something that might be quote worthy.)

‘And perhaps they’ll ruin me, just not today.’

Funnily enough all but... one of these are relatively close to the beginning. Either that means there's a lot of action, quotes, angst, amusement and danger throughout and I didn't want to spoil, or it's all in the first twenty pages. *shrugs*
Finally, I've got a problem. One of my characters is having name issues. I've given him three different names and nothing I can think of, and none of those ideas, fits at all- suggestions? He is around 20 and has a little brother called Tommy. They're of Irish descent. HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT.
I'll put my three favourites into a poll and have it up for votes next week!

*These snippets from part of Ashes, Ashes, my original work that's soon to appear on WattPad. Don't steal them. Don't. I'd be really, really, really cross. All rights and copyright reserved.*

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pantomime by Laura Lam...

Publish date- 2013.
Publisher- Strange Chemistry.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A mysterious, twisting tale of two people, a young girl being brought up a lady, and a closed off boy who has run away to the circus. Their stories intertwine and with each revelation of truth comes a fight to keep a hard won freedom.

What I thought:
Pantomime was so much more than I hoped it would be, than I anticipated it would be. It's kind of one of those books you want to discuss at length, to think about deeply in the quiet of your mind and consider how profound and gorgeous it is. I've wanted to read it for years (thanks, Cayce!) and now that I have I am past pleased. Offline, I'm fairly quiet on the book front, but I talked about this one. My passion was so strong for it.

Pantomime tells two stories about one person. There is Micha Grey, a 16 year old who had fled their old life and, miraculously, joins a circus; and Iphegenia, or Gene, a girl bought up to be a lady, despite the fact she doesn't feel it, doesn't want it. They're told through alternate chapters and I loved both distinct voices. Neither Micha or Gene necessarily identify as female or male, which was so fantastic to read about, and their sexuality is something they're also discovering and comprehending. It was done supremely well.
The scale of acceptance Micha and Gene have to go through, both with others and within themselves, was written in a truly touching manner. Laura Lam's skill was truly marvellous and the fact that gender identity and also sexual preference weren't really the main story but at the same time weren't ignored, not at all, was just incredible and exactly what I think we need more of.

Not only did I enjoy both chapters (which is a rarity), but the world was vivid, even if we were rather confined within it, and so intriguing. I did have a few issues with the pacing, at times, where it would rush forward and a build up could've been a benefit, and also there were a handful of noticeable spelling mistakes, which made it feel overall less finalised.
The ending is this massive rush and I was afraid and didn't know how much was true and the emotion + worry I felt was true for the care I held for this story, although I still don't know exactly how I feel about it. It's big and changes lots of things and one element makes it feel convenient, but it was also pretty fantastically done. Like the whole book.
Pantomime was gorgeous and memorable and exactly what I wanted, plus some.

Rating: Excellent/Big explosion MIND BLOWN.
Exquisite. I cared for the world and the characters. The stakes are high, the feeings were true and fully explored, and it was just so darn good.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (5)

It's only... a couple weeks (who knows. Me, because I just counted. Three and a bit) until I begin posting Ashes, Ashes to WattPad and now I kind of wish I hadn't just found that out, because I only did one day of work on it this week (seeing as I'm writing this on Saturday and have big plans), but it's also a good impetus to get working. I've drifted in and out of many mood stages with this one, and although it's not really unexpected that at one point or another I'll feel negatively towards my work or the amout of work left to do, it did take a while to come knocking.
I'd say I'm about a quarter of the way through my read-through, which is good because it means I'm not still full on editing- although if you remember my editing process post, it kinda does.

Anyhow, this week I'm going to be sharing ten things that are not to be found in Ashes, Ashes*.


A dystopian wasteland.

A fantasy world (apart from the fact that it certainly isn't non-fiction).

Spaceships. (We have crumbly, teeny tiny planes instead. With bad upholstery.)

Poisoned blades.

Accidental stabbing!

Nice bed linen.

Cute/cuddly animals. Although there is a horse. It's probably a biter.

Much walking. (These agent types tend to run. Everywhere. It's like a non-stop exercise class.)

Reading for pleasure.

Dark clouds of ominous intent.

Now, possibly I subscribe to the saying that all writers are liars. Because one of these, it definitely features. And I want to know, which one do you think/want/dream it would be? Whoever gets it right can totally instruct me on what to share next week. *Sits, serenely, listening to the sound of crickets*

*Of course, it's all possible still. I'm in the process of editing- ahh, reading through- and anything can happen. Who wouldn't want some pirates?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park...

Publish date- September 29th, 2015.
Publisher- Penguin/Fig Tree.
RRP- $32.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The fascinating, hardbreaking story of a girl who fled her homeland of North Korea for a better future, only to find herself in perhaps a more awful situation than she could possibly have imagined, and how she kept going.

Thank you to Penguin Books Australia for this review copy!
Image source: Penguin Australia.

What I thought:
In Order to Live was a shocking, gritty, powerful read. Despite the horror of her story, I'm left with the sense that Park is immensely skilled in her telling- she weaves happy childhood anecdotes, the history of her parents and a distinct, warm humor into the text. Comparing these to the painful, detailed factors of rape, human trafficking and starvation that she lived through, it's astonishing and a start comparative.

At times I found Yeonmi's story hard to bear. She is three years older than me and the difference that we experienced with every passing year of our childhood was horrible to take in, the utter reality of the situation- the Chinese Government's move to clear out trafficking with the Olympic Games and media attention in 2008? I remember it well. And at that time Yeonmi was in China, living in wretched fear with one of the traffickers who had some twisted kind of "love" for her.
My life has been so different, so lucky, but I also realised that I couldn't downgrade my own experiences as I read (because I was), since they were entirely different and we had to find our own way out of them.

In Order to Live is told in three parts- North Korea, describing her childhood and the time before she and her mother fled, and what it was that made them make that decision; China, describing the years spent in a place supposedly like a dream but really an apparent nightmare; and South Korea. There is a beautiful way of tellingeach part, an ease and deftness, but I did struggle at points to get through it, both because the voice was difficult to connect with and the tale had so many horiffic elements to it. At times it also felt fragmented, told in a way that might be distracted or back and forth. But overall it was... huge. Important and terrifying and honestly- beautifully- told.

Rating: Ooh, very good.
Autobiographies hold a special place in my heart, and I read In Order to Live at the best possible moment for me. It was difficult because of the topics, mostly, but important. I'm glad to have read it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee...

Publish date- 1999.
Publisher- Spectre.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
In a world you might struggle to comprehend, to begin with, a series of pleasure robots have been created. When Jane, a wealthy young woman who doesn't really realise how lacking her life is, first sees Silver, she tries hard not to be taken in. But soon it's too hard to deny her feelings.

What I thought:
I have a lifelong debt to Glaiz, who got me onto Tanith Lee and recommended me this as the first of her books to read. She warned me Jane, the protagonist, was a hard one to connect with, and I kept that in mind when I started reading. I anticipated that I might have issues.
Instead? I was swept away, reading fast the story that was bizarre and dreamy and almost impossible. It's an odd idea, this story of a girl who falls in love with a pleasure robot; it seemed unthinkable, and the blurb put me off, too- it seems, to me, like it describes a completely different story, in parts, and my annoyances with Jane early on were, I think, rooted in my misjudgement of what her story would be.

In many aspects Jane is a difficult character. She's fragile and spends a lot of her time crying, and she's got this slightly odd, lost feeling to her narrative. She's also rash and her decisions aren't always made in the best frame of mind, but... I enjoyed it a lot. Not until later did I grow to actually realise this and like Jane, but I didn't have a huge problem with her, either. She was different and, although she could've been annoying, she instead carried her story with this note of honesty. However childish she was, she easily sustained her own story and that is a dream.

Silver, the pleasure robot, was such an odd creation, and I did, for a long time, feel incredibly uneasy around his character- he felt dangerous, like he was so autonomous and had a kind of crazy murderer feel about him, but I grew so fond of his character. It seems to odd: she falls in love with a robot, a real, full metal robot. But that's the very best part, because it makes you look differently and question what defines life and love and reason it out. It's distinct in plot, narrative, and feel from any other book I've read.

Rating: Excellent/Big explosion MIND BLOWN.
I use the word "gorgeous" perhaps more than I should, nut this was. And it was odd and complex and entirely different. I loved it. It was beautiful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A feature of pictures (and books!) 13.

My love for picture books is... intense, I'd say. And this time I'm reviewing three and they're all with elements of the astonishing to them. The art, particularly, is ace in two.

Can a Skeleton Have an X-Ray?- Kyle Hughes-Odgers.
When I hear of some books, I know right away that I want to read them, discover what magic, whimsy and reignation of imagination there is to be discovered within the pages. This applies across all ages and genres, just as my discernment abilities can be more perplexed with books across all mediums. I think this was a book that was close to see-want, although I stopped, too, for a few moments. What was it really going to be about? What was it really going to be like? A synopsis says only so much, and this one says... less.
I went forward, however, and was met with... beauty, wonder, questions I hadn't even considered. Basically, each page asks a question, questions of those particularly inquisitive ones, and it answers that question with an illustration. And those illustrations were fine. They were peculiar and distinctive and gave this completely unique feeling to the book, although I had qualms that some didn't seem to actually answer the question. Sometimes the illustration came across as being more important than the question, and in that it forgot to depict the answer. They were utterly gorgeous, though, so I don't really care.
Thank you to Fremantle Press for this review copy!
Image source: Fremantle Press.

Imaginary Fred- Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers.
Okay, so Imaginary Fred seems like a bit of a picture book dream- Jeffers (Crayons!) and Colfer (Fowl!)? A match for all the senses. I did, however, feel a niggle of doubt when I read the first page. A happy introvert, being alone makes up some of my happiest time. And being alone was out of the question not good, here.
After that, however, it went on pretty well- Imaginary friends want a single, true, best friend!- and I do love reading about imaginary friends, only... it felt fairly average. The pictures didn't stun me, there wasn't a particular lyrical note to the text, and the plot... it didn't give me enough. The ending I liked a lot, however overall I expected grand and was presented with good.

Thank you to Harper Collins Childrens for this review copy!

Adelaide's Secret- Elise Hurst.
Although I'm not a huge fan of the cover (the back cover I like a lot more, artwise), ASW was a fairly... gorgeous read. A world where creatures and humans are the same size and live together, where imagination is yearned to be shared and for the creative, quiet dreamers to come together and make something huge from the world. Also, there are flying ships.

I want this in novel form, please thank you and hurry.

I would've liked a little from the text, all in all, but visually it was a feast. Gorgeous and utterly akin to something in a far off dream.

Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image source: Allen and Unwin.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (4)

Okay, so what do you know about Ashes, Ashes? If you've read the past three editions of this feature, you'll know it has a secret spy (possibly an agency of secret spies), snark between two characters, one of them being the MC and another... of unknown situation, it's got some guy called Walter in it and the songs I align with it are not all upbeat Elvis tunes. In fact, there's only one of them. The rest have a slightly darker, more haunted feel.

Because these characters? They're haunted as all heck.

Here are ten other things you might not know about Ashes, Ashes:

I wrote it after a dream/nightmare (yeah, really it was more of a nightmare that I manipulated) that was kind-of inspired by my love for Veronica Mars?

Our MC, Allison, doesn't just have one villain to do some kind of fabulous take down on. She's got a whole family. With cousins and uncles and everything.

They hate her, this clan of villany. And she hates them just as much.
Because of reasons.

There was a romance in my first draft! There were actually two! One was hate-hate-love! and one was scowl-intrigue-love. They mostly got cut.

But there is romance. At this point. I still have... four weeks to cut it out, so bear with.

As part of my editing, I cut 25K from the story. It currently stands at just over 50K, so I still won the Camp NaNo I wrote it in.

I've changed one character name three times. He went from something to something and now he's Simikion!

I can't remember why I wrote Allison's name with two ells. There was probably some significance to that choice.

There is a fond mention (and a fairly lengthy one)- perhaps we'll call it an ode- to pastry in this novel.

Allison gets heartily bloodied up. And a haircut.

whisper!BAM! Romi out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bittersweet Journals.

I’ve written in journals, sporadically, for years. I used to want to be that person who got to the end of their life and had written every day, but I don’t think I’m ever going to be that person. I’ve gone periods where I’ve written every week, every month, whenever I felt like it. I went almost a year, most recently, writing every day.

But I look back, at journals I wrote in when I was amidst my toughest, most breakable, when I was sinking or mindlessly happy or fluctuating. When I was thinking or considering something, anything, and I’ve felt so changed, in the months or years that have passed, and when I look back at the words I scrawled I feel almost distressed. Because I don’t remember the intensity of my feelings. I don’t vividly remember how close to shattering I was. And it hurts, to see, to relive. And what if someone else read it, I can never stop thinking. What if they read it and didn't realise that it wasn't their fault. That I don't blame anyone. There are excuses and I fill myself with them, but all the same- it's almost too hard to write down anything at all. Because what would they think of me.

But then I remember that it *was* accurate, even if it isn't anymore. It was my life. And I'm so glad to have recorded it.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (3)

This week in Perceivable Intensities, I'm sharing some snippets* from the area I'm at right now. I've only got about... 50 pages left to edit/rewrite/decimate (goodbye, 15k), and I'm hoping I'll be able to finish that and reread the whole thing before NaNo starts? Which... may not happen. BUT I STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE. And I actually still have very little idea what I'm going to be doing for NaNo, even though it begins this time next week. But hey! Maybe I'm always this unprepared.
So, these are some snippets that give Ashes, Ashes (which I've officially renamed. Perceivable Intensities, which is a shortening of the original name, didn't fit so well, and... let's just say there's a lot of ash in this book) the exact feel I want for it.
As always, you can follow me on WattPad and gear up for more of this!
*I say snippets, but really- they're words. Put together. With other words. Tending to be rather short. They should really be called "snips," only that sounds... awkward.

I fear we shall always have a bond after this night.

They had both known how far they’d go, what barriers they would cross and crush underfoot. 
They would both go farther.

The sun and the atmosphere are both warm, jovial, but the wind, light as it seems, holds ice, and it settles over her more easily than any of the warmth.

She’s relieved for the silence, letting it carry them along and not once trying to fight it, but it doesn’t last long. After about ten minutes he pulls over, the road all around them deserted and, when he rolls down his window, silent. But not peaceful. Never peaceful.
He rests his forearms on the wheel and a small smile plucks at the corner of his mouth.
‘What?’ Allison asks, watching him not look at her, her own smile beginning to form despite the foreboding the situation is making her feel. ‘What are you thinking about?’

‘Nothing.’ There’s a pause and she comes close to ripping his insufferable face off of it’s insufferable neck. ‘I’m just watching, darling.’
‘You’re smirking.’
‘This? This is not a smirk.’
‘Don’t expect me to ask, then, because you know I-’
‘Worry not. I’m well aware you’re far too grand for the rest of us.'

*whispers* How do you end a post after sharing work you're incredibly excited/proud about/of? WITH SPARKLES! BAM! IMAGINARY SPARKLES FOR YOU ALL.

Friday, October 23, 2015

As Black as Ebony by Salla Simukka.

Publish date- September 2015.
Publisher- Hot Key Books.
RRP- $16.95 (AUD)

Read my review for books 1 and 2!

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The third and final book in the Lumikki Andersson trilogy, Lumikki is out to find out the truth. But, with a stalker on her trail- and a stalker who seems to know more about her than even she does- Lumikki might not get out alive, this time.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for this review copy!
Image Source: Five Mile Press.

What I thought:
Obsession. Obsession. Obsession. Obsession.
Every Hot Key Books title has a list of "ingredients", four elements that sum up the parts of the story in your hands, and when I saw the back cover of As Black as Ebony I wondered if it was a misprint, since I saw four parts obsession.
Nup. That's how intense it was.

As Black As Ebony is the final book in the YA Finnish crime series that retells, subtly, Snow White, and it is full of obsession. And for me, it won me back aster a less than overwhelming second book. Here Lumikki is back with all her questions and tragedy, the horrors of her recent past mere blips, really, in her life- here she is focusing on the longer ago tragedy, the half remembered memory of a sister that her time in Prague helped to resurface.

Being back with Lumikki for one last book reminded me fiercely of why and how I loved her. Lumikki is a faintly broken character, a haunted, shadowy person who hardly seems to exist- she is ethereal and faint and at times she seems to live more inside her head than the real world. And I can't seem to hep but love characters like that, be they darker- like Lumikki- or lighter- like Luna Lovegood. However told, they present some of the very best stories.

There's a stalker after Lumikki in this book, someone who knows more of her past than she herself, and someone who is watching her every moment. It was unsettling, reading their letters, textx and POV, seeing the way they affected Lumikki's stability and were just always there. We also get confusion and fear and new emotion as Lumikki finds happiness in a new relationship, and even get to meet Blaze, the transgendered boy who might be her one true love, the one who broke her heart. I couldn't like him, not with his posessive behaviour and intent belief that no one else could love or be with Lumikki, but it was interesting to meet him.

Rating: Excellent.
Pretty creepy, but also gorgeous and irresistable, and a fairly beautiful ending to a series and characters I adore. I'm so proud of her and her choices.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mini Reviews (16)

Ink and Bone- Rachel Caine.
Not all people can ever love one book, and in a smaller community like that of us book bloggers the same is certainly to be said. And I suppose it hadn't been my turn for a while.

While, from what I've seen, the vast majority of reviews for Ink and Bone have been beyond highly praising, my own thoughts were thick and congested and I only got about 86-87 pages through before realising a DNF was the only way for me to go forward.

Unfortunately, I simply could not get into the story. The world, whilst interesting, was stiff and unyielding to my mind, and I found it impossible to become interested in it. And whilst the characters did seem nicely diverse, they were just as hard to find an entry point with. I kept trying, beyon the point where it was difficult, but no win. The idea is incredibly interesting and clearly it is a story many adore just, sadly, not me.

Thank you to Faber and Factory/A&U for this review copy!
Image source: Murdoch Books.

Thank you to Macmillan for this review copy!
Image source: Pan Macmillan.

Carry On- Rainbow Rowell.
I'm undecided, but it seems I should probably stop pushing Rainbow Rowell books into my face. I've tried the majority of them, E&P being the only I finished. It was a great success- until the end- and I just tend, it seems, to not be enthused like others. Carry On is another sad case of this point. I'd been unsuccessful with Fangirl but was planning on trying it again, so I thought I'd try Carry On as a lead in. Also, it sounded fairly fantastic. In the almost third that I read, though, I wasn't enthused, captivated or won over. Rather, I felt like I was reading something I recognised that didn't have enough of a spin on it to make me really interested. As far as I could tell, Simon Snow is fairly well a reimagining of Harry Potter. It's still set in the UK (although it didn't feel naturally British), but the wizarding world is a little different, especially with it's ruling. But unless there is some major distinctive change to the plot, then it's not enough for me to want to spend hours reading 522 pages about someone whose story I already know and love and would chose to reread in it's original form. And Simon was really annoying, besides.

Clearly there are distinctive changes- the characters aren't exact replicas and as far as I'm aware there's some romance between the Harry and Draco characters (unless that's just the fanfic?), there is swearing and multiple, interiguing POVS- it is diffierent. But it isn't different enough, not for me. And there was something in the telling that just... wasn't for me, either. I'm all for Harry and Draco in a relationship, but Carry On isn't the way I'm going to get there.

I DNFd at 114.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Perceivable Intensities (2)

Okay, so today I’m going to be curating and sharing a little playlist. I used to make playlists that fit my books, but... well actually I just made over the one playlist for the one book about three times over a couple of years, but still. IT COUNTS. It does. *nods* Anyhow, I haven’t made one in about two, three years, so it’s about time I did. And with my editing of Ashes, Ashes coming along nicely (although when you decide to cut a whole dramatic romance from the arc it makes for a lot of cutting, eyebrow quirks at the dramaaaaa and whole scenes aplenty to rewrite) I thought I’d prepare myself to launch back in by making a playlist. Hopefully it’ll either a. give you a unique feel to the story or b. make you want to sign up to WattPad and follow me immediately because you know whatever I release in December is going to be sodding amazing.
Either of those options would be perfectly acceptable.
Also: no affiliation between me and any of these artists. I just think their music makes sense in a world I made up one time and wanted to share the fact.

Allison. Ghost Ingrid Michaelson.
It’s not so clearly cut as the song makes it, but there’s a really good sense of the past and the things the Allison has become of things that happened to her in this.
Also: Hackensack Fountains of Wayne makes for the kind of song that wouldn’t only play throughout the novel, but is a nice representation of Allison’s childhood self talking to her older self.

Allison and Sim. Another Love- Tom Odell.
Basically, this is a better representation of these two than I realised when I considered it. It’s actually giving me all kinds of feels for 1:57-2:13. #sobbing

Walter. I believe- Christina Perri
Walter is a giant softie. He’s... very close *squints* to Allison in a paternal-but-not sense, and isn’t necessarily pleased with her choice to join the, ah, giant corperation he runs that trains people into becoming secret agents. He understands the levels there are to Allison that she can’t even see.

Our villains. Crazy- the Melanie Martinez version.
I like playing around with my villains, and although these ones I do dislike for their villany, there are still questions that get raised. And some of them are a little out of it, too. Crazy on power. On loss. All of it.

The hunting of our villains. Seven Nation Army- the Melanie Martinez version.
Some people go against the rules. Bad move. 'nuff said.

An *event*. Candles- Daughter.
There’s something that happens. It is intense and full of lies. Each party knows more and less than they realise.

Overall. Suspicious Minds- Elvis Presley.
Because hey, they’re secret agents. They trust no one.

BONUS ROUND. New Ceremony- Dry the River.
This also relates to something. Heh.

Hopefully this makes sense to anyone but me. At least a little. OR IT WILL.