Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart...

Title- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
Author- E. Lockhart.
Publish date- January, 2015.
Publisher- Allen and Unwin.
RRP- $14.99

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Frankie Landau-Banks is a mega mastermind. 
Few people understand this. Fewer understand the extent of her mastry.
Frankie doesn't like to be ordered around or kept out of things for no good reason, so when she finds out her boyfriend is lying to her and going to secret society club meetings, she is quite happy and capable of taking matters into her own hands without letting anybody know.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image Source: Allen and Unwin.

What I thought:
I have been incredibly keen to read The Disreputable History of Frankie L-B for many years. It was one of the first books I ever added to my goodreads to-read list and has never left that list, amidst the many tidies it had seen; it's quite strange, then, that I was fortunate enough to recieve a review copy after being so eager to read it for some years, and even more strange that it was not a thing like I anticipated. It was more serious, less mysterious in certain ways, not quite so lighthearted, and more thought-provoking than I could've hoped for.

It tells the story of Frankie Landau-Banks and her journey to become her true self, I think, and that was, for me, the story that was at the base of it all. Frankie feels shaped and moulded by the whims, expectations and decisions of those around her, and when she finds the boy she's liked for over a year as her boyfriend, she is determined not to become a girl who mindlessly follows, at the same time as not risking a breakup. She sees the ways this happens to others, sees it creep towards her, and she takes steps to ensure it stays at bay.
This, as a whole, was a theme that, really, made me so very happy. Frankie stood out from so many fictional characters, and not just in her self retention. She was intrigued and angry and powerful, cunning and determined and clever, and her traits made a character who was not only an active part in her happiness, but a lively person to read about and someone whose story I truly wanted to follow, and did so with eagerness. It wasn't how I imagined. In many ways, it wasn't better. But certainly it was more profound.

Rating: Excellent.
I would recommend this book eagerly. It shows a character who handles herself and makes mistakes and is controlling, all in the search to be true to herself, and it's a really thought-provoking read.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mini Review (10)

Anders and the Comet- Gregory Mackay.
To describe this book in one word would be to use this one: Neat.
It's splendid, imaginative, like one of the adventures I would have as a child- it felt just like a child's mind or spirit, with the feel and direction of the story, and to step back to that was and is always a wonderful feeling. It didn't make any big statements, simply went into the story, which was nicely layered with the suggestions at Bernie's (a young elephant) background and Eden's (seen wearing the eyepatch) mothers, and told something that was memorable and enjoyable and really quote neat. I love the comic/graphic/manga way of storytelling and really love that it's how this was told; it made the story unique, interesting and I feel so excited for everyone who picks it up and discovers this different way of storytelling.
Anders and the Comet is the first in a series and I, for one, am really looking forward to the next installment.

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

The Boyfriend List- E. Lockhart.
I bought my copy of The Boyfriend List as an ex-library copy, forgetting that it was actually no longer on my tbr list- it was the very same copy I'd tried and given up on some months before, but I did not recall that I hadn't felt the desire to give it another try and splurged a whole 50c. And it turned out to be a really fantastic read.
Ruby was a very real and nicely unlikable character. I really admire the way she was written with faults, faults she acknowledged even though she knew they weren't right. She would talk about all the things that meant she should feel one way, all the things she believed in, and yet she idn't feel that way and she knew it. Admitted it. She still believed, though. even if she felt something that wasn't aligned with those beliefs, and I really, really loved that. She did the wrong thing and blamed people before she blamed herself, and she displayed such character growth as she traversed the course of this novel; as the story unfolded I came to grow more and more interested in it, thinking and feeling and relating and enjoying it a huge amount.
Thank you to the luck and chance of library sales. And Santa Clause christmas wrapping, for corner mending.

Minton Goes! - Anna Fienberg, Kim Gamble.
I think I would have sunk, had I read the collection of stories in Minton Goes to myself, especially after the first story, The Hottest Boy, which I thought was fairly marvellous- a marvellousness that I didn't feel throughout the rest of the book. But as it happens, I decided to read the stories to my niece, and though The Hottest Boy is still my favourite of the lot and I never really took to Minton (though Turtle is, I must say, brilliant), the result is a very different one. Reading stories aloud brings forth a different kind of engagement, and for the days I read this to her, my niece was the most engaged she had ever been in a story for such a length of time. When you read them aloud, the stories (more like chapters, really) grow and become bigger, more exciting and wonderful than they would be if they were not spoken; Minton's hairbrained schemes, the friends he and Turtle make, Turtles dour perspective, voice breathes life into them in a remarkable way, and in the end I really enjoyed my experience with this book and it's, really, very neat illustrations (I truly love the way Kim Gamble mixes and utilises colour- it's very distinct and memorable): though we're not quite up to building Minton's vehicles.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mini Reviews (9)

Chook Chook Saving the Farm - Wai Chim.
By the time I closed it, I had enjoyed Saving the Farm, but it was a struggle of a read, overall; being for an early MG audience, the writing felt like it was aimed at a very specific age group, and it didn't captivate me like I'd hoped. The story of Chinese vilages being demolished to make way for roads is one I am interested in, and that made this seem to be a really interesting read, but though there would certainly be a level of truth to it, I could't distinguish all that well. It is a pretty sweet read, though, just not one that suited me patricularly, writing-wise, and with a plot that fell a bit flat.

Thank you to UQP for this review copy!
Image Credit: UQP.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin- Russell Brand.
To me, this sounded like a funny, peculiar story, one I would laugh along with and enjoy (especially as it's illustrated by my all time favourite illustrator, Chris Riddell), and so I sat down, ready for something enjoyable to happen... only it really, really didn't.
Rather than amused I was disgusted and throughly put off. It was a book where gross things happened again and again, and my horror at how different it was to my imaginings and how endlessly it seemed to delve into the disgusting- I had been under the impression it was aimed at children, but now I am under a very different assumption. I really wanted to turn away and look at something else rather than continue to read about where the defecation of the rats that spilt into Hamelin went and what other atrocities were written about in a manner that was supposed to be humerous but only made me full of horror and annoyance. This was very far from a pleasant read for me, unfortunately.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for this review copy!
Image Credit: Allen and Unwin.

I loved Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle, so I felt hugely excited to see where he went with a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, a fairytale I've never been hugely taken with but felt I could be drawn to in this retelling- for me, though, it wasn't really anything special. I didn't feel the need to savour the experience. I'm not familiar enough with the original to notice any big differences between it and this, which made it feel very akin to the story I already knew. I had hoped for soaring highs to go with the bitter lows of the story, alterations that I would pick out by the handful and remember, think of in the future rather than the ways of the original, but none of that was true, sadly. It's written nicely, certainly, but though niceness should be well enough to make something remarkable, it didn't feel that way. I suppose you could say it was a niceness that didn't transcend, didn't lift off the page. And though they are interesting and more detailed than I imagined, the illustrations... I needed something more, for this story. Absolutely they suited the tale, but not so much me. And I suppose that's just how this went.
Thank you to Bloomsbury for this review copy!
Image Credit: Bloomsbury Australia.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Epic Reads- a tag! A Tag! A TAG I SAY.

I'm doing the Epic Reads tag, which I saw on the glorious blog The Daisy Tree, which is seriously just lovely- I don't know where this tag originated initially, so whoever created it I give you the credit! It's excellent!

1. If you could invite one author and one of their fictional characters to tea, who would you invite and what would you serve them?
Well I like to bend rules (seriously this is about as far from the truth as saying pie and cake are basically the same thing), so I'm choosing Bisco Hatori, author of the wonderful manga Ouran High School Host Club. I'd invite her and two of her characters, Tamaki and Haruhi!

2. What book do you wish the author would write the prequel for?

The Sleeper and the Spindle comes to mind. Neil Gaiman wrote such a gorgeous fairytale retelling and I want to see how me envisages Snow White's story as a full, not just the afterwards.

3. Which two characters (NOT from the same book) do you think would make a good couple?
I do like the idea of either Kasta, from Graceling, or Lyra, from His Dark Materials, being in a relationship with Celaena from the Throne of Glass series. I think they'd both make a really good pair with her, particularly Kasta.

4. If you ran into your favorite author on the subway and only could say one sentence to them, who is it and what would it be?

I don't have an all time favourite author. I think... lets say it's Catherynne M. Valente. I would basically thank her for changing my imagination and helping me see fairyland more clearly again.

5. What book made you a reader and why?
Possibly Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I vividly remember being given $20 dollars and being able to go into a bookstore and buy it, simply because it sounded interesting and I really felt passionate about it. And they're such beautiful books, those ones, the covers... I think that really bought me into novels.

6. Your bookshelf just caught fire! What is the one book you would save?
WHAT?! I repeat, WHAT?!
Probably my boxed set of A Series of Unfortunate Events, titled The Complete Wreck. It's just beautiful.

7. Which dystopian world would you want to live in and why?
 Ahh... possibly that of WondLa, the series by Tony DiTerlizzi. It's got animals that nowdays are teeny tiny and are huge (water bears), is wonderfully imaginative and also a place for adventures to take place.

8. What is your most Epic Read of all time?
Fantasy-wise, it's currently the Throne of Glass series, by the brilliant Sarah J. Maas.

This is an incredibly fun tag! I bid you do it! No specifics- if you looked to see if I tagged you, please do it and give me a link. I'll be thrilled!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Flywheel by Erin Gough...

Title- The Flywheel.
Author- Erin Gough.
Publish date- February, 2015.
Publisher- Hardie Grant Egmont.
RRP- $19.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Love longed for, love twisted, love true. Saving libraries, cafe life, rescuing friends from the law, flamenco dancing, growing up. 

Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for this review copy!

What I thought:
The Flywheel was not, to be honest, what I had hoped for. I read it in two days, regardless, the majority  on a hot summer day where it could fill up my mind and waft through my thoughts, but, at least for me, it wasn't a book with a story or characters that did much besides waft. Soon after I closed the book they were gone, and though I think the cover is incredibly neat and the blurb entices me, the story did not, particularly. It had good points and bad points, too, surprises and frustrations and all of that, but most of the time I could describe it as simply being "there".

I think the main thing that actually annoyed me about the story was the behaviour, the flimsy attitude of the protagonist, Del. She could have been standout, but instead she was passionate one second and angry the next without, to my eyes, true justification; I think this is a point she had to try and accept herself, but though that may be I still found myself struggling to reconcile myself with the way she cast people  off without a moments notice because they couldn't do what she wanted. She was too messy a character for my liking, and though I ruly hoped to find her likable and marvellous, that didn't happen for me.

One of the things I thought was the most well done would have to be the rememberances and after effects of Del's first crush, a crush on a girl at school who, after returning the affection, turns against it sharply and without kindness, which results in cruel taunting and bullying. It was unlpleasant at times, but also had true moments of sweetness. I understood more of Del in those moments than in most others.

Rating: Poor.
As a book that looked and sounded brilliant and original in general, The Flywheel was mostly a let down. It did have some good moments, but they didn't really amount to anything huge or great to me, and already are faded from my memory.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Books I couldn't get through in my break #1

A feature about the (review) books I couldn't get through in my break from the computer.


Legacy of the Claw- C.R. Grey.
Copy published and provided by Hot Key Books. Thank you!

I got a mere 45 pages before being unable to continue with Legacy of the Claw, but I really couldn't have gone forward and expected myself to enjoy the experience. It was quite difficult to get as far as I did.
The thing that drew me to Legacy of the Claw was the fact humans and animals have a link (think His Dark Materials), though it's with every animal in the breed (I think), but... it turned out I found myself reading something that was to my eyes, quite honestly, a younger version of Harry Potter with animals.
The story itself didn't seem to have all that much in kind with it, plot wise, but the characters spoke, acted and, in some circumstances, looked like those I have met and loved already, and the longer I read Bailey's chapters the more it felt the same, and I was, really, unable to go on after that. It had so much potential, but it just... didn't come close to getting me or holding me in the amount I was able to read.

Image Credit: Hot Key Books.

The Battle for WondLa- Tony DiTerlizzi.
Copy published and provided by Simon and Schuster Australia. Thank you!

I got through 141 pages of The Battle for WondLa, the third book in a series that I started off adoring and liked a whole lot less for the middle of the sequel, and it just... was going down, sadly. I'd prefer to keep the love I have for the idea of the series and the first book and the incredible illustrations of Tony DiTerlizzi that are just so good in each instalment, than make myself get through the final book when I'm far from enjoying it and it is only getting harder for me. Eva had changed into a character who... she and I no longer clicked, at all (though I do adore and completely covet her style), and the ialouge felt more juvenile than it ever had before. It stifled the plot, which couldn't grip me, and made everything fall to the side, despite what I'm sure must have waited ahead, what the story offered. It was just... past me, I suppose, as grudging and unhappy as I am to say that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fire by Kristen Cashore...

Title- Fire (Graceling Realm #2)
Author- Kristen Cashore.
Publish date- 2009.
Publisher- Gollanez.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Fire is a monster. Her father was a monster and she saw what he did. How he controlled. Now she must face the people he injured the most, leaving the safety of her home, and try to use the skills he taught her to help and not hurt, despite the face there is fear and hate in the faces of those who see and recognise her, and the fact she is terrified of her power.

What I thought:
I was pretty hesitant to read Fire. I'd tried it about halfway through 2014 and had sent it back to the library, unfinished and disappointed Kasta wasn't still the protagonist, and I've heard more negative in regards to it than positive. Still, I loved Graceling and I wanted to go through with it, or at least try harder than I had. And you know what, whoever you are?
It was completely brilliant.
I loved Fire so much (the character), and I felt a little of Kasta's strength and fear in her, though she was such a different character, too. Individual and with such a story to tell.

I did find myself creeped out more than once, with the story of Leck as a child at the beginning and Fire's memory of Cansrel, the cruelty of those two disgusting and frightening me, but they didn't dominate the story, fortunately, and Fire held my attention when those moments had passed.

From the first, I anticipated the way the romance would unfold, but that doesn't mean, despite the predictability, that I didn't still follo it with avid enjoyment. Fire and the character involved were so good, and the development of the relationship was rocky and bittersweet and so nicely done, fleeting happiness that reminded me a little of Celaena in Crown of Midnight.

The end was quite wonderful, from the espionage to the hospital work, and every single moment of this book held me fast. I was very unhappy that Kasta and Po weren't in it at all, as I had been under the impression they at least made an appearance, but NO! Hopefully Bitterblue... I've got to keep hoping. (Since then I have tried and decided not to procede with Bitterblue. It didn't bode well with me.)

Rating: Excellent.
It wasn't what I anticipated. I never liked Archer.It had a kind of creepiness that I didn't like.  It had a character who I rougishly loved. It had a protagonist who was layered and truly brilliant. It was an ace story.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Rookie Yearbook Three (Edited)by Tavi Gevinson...

Title- Rookie Yearbook Three.
Author- Edited by Tavi Gevinson.
Publish date- October 2014.
Publisher- Penguin Australia.
RRP- $32.99

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A collection of writing and art and photography, interviews and ponderings for young girls of the world. Profound and interesting, there are lessons here that are unique and accessible in a way that they may not have always been.
Thank you to Penguin Australia for this review copy!
Image Credit: Penguin Australia.

What I thought:
I've never read very much from the Rookie site, but I have admired it and known about it, and I'm incredbly happy that I was lucky enough to get the chance of reviewing the third yearbook, because it truly opened something for me. I'm so glad that Rookie is an available source for people to understand life, what they're going through, appreciate pain and love and others, because this is truly an important resource. It is intense and passionate and important, and while I can't expect every article, on the website or in the yearbook, will suit me or anyone else (I skipped a handful ad feel like there were a few more I could have gone without), there are certainly going to be some- for me quite a few- that will open your eyes to the world and yourself.

The contributions vary and vary widely, from interviews and to-do lists, to suggestions and craft and essays, and I was happy, as I flipped through the pages and read, because I felt like I had been let into this wonderful community and it was teaching me so much, giving me so much, and while, as I say, not everything was what I wanted, so much of it was good, at the very least, and I feel like I would share it. The secret of Rookie. The understanding that it gives. I want to share it with so many people!

Rating: Ooh very good/Excellent.
I'm so glad to have read this. It was relatable and understandable and natural, so natural, and real. Very real. Plus enjoyable!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

As You Wish by Cary Elwes, Joe Layden...

Title- As You Wish.
Author- Cary Elwes, Joe Layden.
Publish date- November 2014.
Publisher- Simon and Schuster.
RRP- $24.99.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A look inside one of my favourite movies, this is a behind the scenes tour and tale of the making and aftermath of The Princess Bride, told by The Dread Pirate Roberts himself.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for this review copy!

What I thought:
So. Here's the thing. My love for Cary Elwes as an actor spreads to two of my favourite things: The Princess Bride and The Ca Returns. The Princess Bride, both film and book, are two of my all time favourite things. I also have an all time favourite book that is, ever surprisingly, non fiction.
Now I have two all time favourite books, sitting side by side, because As You Wish was more, much more, than simply fantastic.
It expanded as I read it and took on a life of it's own, and as I learnt new things about the film, the actors, the book, it grew and grew, so I could hardly do anything but love it.

So, my two all time favourite books? Both non fiction. I read very little non fiction, it must be said.

It is such a sweet book. So warm and full of love and adventure and passion for this project that took on such a life years after it came out. There were contributions from the actors, William Goldman, the producer and Rob Reiner, and they all... they write with such clear passion for it, and that is something I adore. When someone loves something so much that it seeps into you. This did exactly that, with the stories of getting the film off the ground, meeting the other actors, anecdotes from set (many- most, really- of which were hilarious); Cary Elwes writes a book that is absolutely fantastic, and I had an incredible time reading it.

Rating: Big Explosion MIND BLOWN.
Phenomonal. New all time favourite book alert.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan...

Title- Unmade (Lynburn Legacy #3)
Author- Sarah Rees Brennan.
Publish date-  August 2014.
Publisher- Simon and Schuster.
RRP- $16.99

*May contain spoilers for books 1 and 2 in the trilogy! BEWARE*
I love this series, so here is my review of book 1, book 2, and a character feature post!

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
It's the final showdown in the small town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and Kami must face not only the darkness of evil and the power it has over the people in her beloved town, but herself and the choices that she and the people she loves make, and how they change everything. (DUN DUN DUNNNNN)

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for this review copy!

What I thought:
I read this a whole month earlier than I read the second book last year, which makes me feel like I'm going pretty well with my reading (ha, that quickly changed!) but unfortunately it wasn't so stellar as the second book had proved to be. This, being the final, has so much hanging on it- I've lost all my love for a series because of the last book, and though that certainly didn't happen here I was aware that it was falling close to flat. Kami lost a touch of her brilliance in the whole "which boy should I choose oh my" triangle, which truly bewildered me since I had never thought she actually questioned which Lynburn she loved, and suddenly funding so much triangular love wasn't such a good thing for me.

It also felt like the pace was quite erratic, with it all going along at a rather slow pace only to speed up and overtake itself in a scene of intensity (sometimes with the extreme angst of the *mostly* ever lovable Jared this wasn't a terrible thing), though by the end, for the most part, it had settled itself.

As an end to a series that I've always been a month or two late on, well it was pretty good. Kami shines and fights for herself and others in a way I can always rely on her to, and I was happy with the way things tied up, the sorrow and happiness that the characters were respectively doled out. There were moments I disliked, more than there had been in either of the other books, but the moments that shine really do, and the last 120 pages all shone brightly. It wasn't brilliant. Or stunning. But it was an end, and an end that was really... right. For me. For Kami. For my understanding and appreciation of the characters.

Rating: Really rather Hmm-ish.
Angst- too much. Love reliability- a bit wild w. Kami but otherwise good. Quotable scenes- a delightful amount. Humor- shining. Pace- unfortunate. End- good. Really quite good.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A return.


I am back from my travels (or not) and have waded through about 700 emails already. My mind feels a little bit numb from that, but I am still back!
Many exciting things happened whilst I was away, including my new fringe (well that happened 3 days before I went but lets just go with it), a trip to the hospital and rutches for 5 days (wasn't that fun? No. No it was not. Still, I can walk again, mostly...), the editing of 1.5 novels, the reading of many, many books, and another intently exciting thing that I can't reveal quite yet. I also found out a month too late that I missed the opportunity of seeing Neil Gaiman whilst he was in Tasmania for a reading of The Sleeper and the Spindle, which just happens to be one of my favourite books, so that is quite upsetting. I don't think forgiving myself for that will come too easily.

I'm so excited to update all the books I read on Goodreads, start posting reviews, see what you have been posting and head into the next stages of book editing, wherein I transfer all my edits onto the computer and start working towards agency-ish things. This is daunting yet thrilling.

There are exciting things to come this year, for sure. I think that's true for all of of. Now, prepare for many, many posts throughout February, recapping all the books I reviewed whilst offline.