Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A feature of pictures (and books!) 12.

Interesting, surprising and incredibly hilarious and cute books this time. A new all time favourite, one that I only realised it's hidden truth after finishing it.

The Day the Crayons Came Home- Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers.

I have an intense love for the first "Crayons" book, and hearing there was a second got me royally excited. And I mean, the cover. It's glory to behold.

And was I disappointed? Could the Crayons win me over a seocnd time? Would it be as good?

Hells. Yeah.
Each of these crayons has colour, personality, originality. They all feel unique and their stories are hilarious and striking. The neon red crayon, left at the pool when on holiday, journeying to get back home; the glow in the dark (!!!!) crayon, left in the basement; the orange and yellow, melted together; Esteban the Magnificent (pea green) leaving home for something better. It's brilliant, full of humor and something age doesn't allow you to outgrow.

It's got a sodding glow in the dark crayon and page. I mean come on. Nothing is better.

Thank you to Harper Collins for this review copy!
Image source: Harper Collins.

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

Suri's Wall- Lucy Estela and Matt Ottley.
I knew very little about Suri's Wall before I requested it (a risk I take a little more easily with picture books), and when I started reading I felt my lack of knowledge intently. I didn't have an ounce of understanding as to what was going on.
Now, ask me what I'd anticipated and I couldn't tell you. Ask me what I got and halfway through I still wouldn't have known- it's a peculiar story, the art feels like it's very computer-game cgi-esq, and the story was perplexing.

Not until the end did I realise the full power of what I'd just read, the story of magnificent things seen over a wall amd the choice we have between protecting, when they turn into nightmares, even if it's for just a little while longer, rather than sharing the horrors that are coming nearer.
I liked the power of it, afterwards, even if I didn't feel it until the last page was turned, even if I felt like many elements of the story were too vague to understand until the very end.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cress by Marissa Meyer.

Publish date- 2014.
Publisher- Macmillan Young Listeners.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The third book in the Lunar Chronicles, extending the stories of all those we've already met (Cinder, Scarlet, ect. ect. ect.) and telling the story afresh of Rapunzel with the gloriousness of Cress. Oh. And Thorn. 

What I thought:
So... Cress. I am very nearly up to date with the Lunar Chronicles and, after a less than exciting time with Cinder and Scarlet, Cress finally had me in, all the way.
It’s not that it didn’t have it’s faults- it did- but they were few and far between and, really, tended to add to the story’s whimsicality.

Cress is the newest, although we’ve met her twice before, in our ever growing array of POV characters- Cinder, Kai, Cress, Levana, Scarlet, Dr. Arelond (?), Thorn- it’s a lot to get ahold of, which is when it is especially good to be listening via audio. Cress I liked, a lot. She is that bit realer than the other title ladies, anxiety ridden and passionate. Apart from her slightly- and frankly- worrying infatuation with Thorn, who she’d never met, a point that had many an eye roll and widen cast in it’s direction, she was kind of like me. I loved that we got to see her fight, got to see how deep and extensive her strength was, beyond her fear. And she and Thorn, once her infatuation took a quiet and mostly ignorable backseat, were SO CUTE together! They’d have to be my favourite characters and carried the story, for their part, so well. Their scenes were just kinda really excellent. Third favourite is officially Icho, who shines (and gets her own POV, briefly). She’s quirky, excitable, perfectly passionate, the voice of the reader when it comes to many a romantic scene, and there for Cinder and the crew staunchly.

Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf and Kai still do little for me- Kai’s stupidity continues to astonish me, Cinder’s choices are... bizarre, and Wolf’s level of love for scarlet, having known her for a week or two, and ineptitude when she wasn’t around, gives me squinty eyes.
However, in their way they do help carry the story forward and I will admit that a certain scene between two characters was kind of gorgeous and adorable. And cemented my Icho love.

Overall, the plot is speeding forwards and still craftily building itself. I’m excited to see where Cress and Thorn go next, meet Winter better, hopefully see Levana offed and see less assy-ness from Kai (because really, anyone else consider what his choices and actions were going to be if she hadn’t been the princess?). I’m into this story, now. It took me two books, but into the third I officially started having favourite characters and caring what happens to them. And, you know, Cinder’s plight and all that. But mostly Cress and Thornnnnn!

Rating: Excellent. It's verging. It's verging.
Upwards pointing. Pointing pointing pointing.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett...

Publish date- October 2015.
Publisher- Simon and Schuster.
RRP- $19.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Beatrice draws bodies. Jack draws words. They meet late one night on the Owl bus and slowly spend time together, surprising themselves and each other as their bond strengthens. But there is always more under the surface than one thinks.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for this review copy!
Image source: Simon and Schuster.

What I thought:
Night Owls, for me, is a read I'm going to try and separate: the first half as one, really enjoyable book, the seocnd as a book I intently disliked. I doubt it'll work, but who knows. It may.

The first half of Night Owls was close on brilliant. Beatrice (whose name I adored, although she did not) was a character different from any I'd seen before. She was quiet and quietly (sneakily, rather) defiant, going out to draw dead bodies for her anatomical studies against her nurse mother's wishes (which seemed based solely on it's not nice for a young girl to do that kind of thing, annoyingly), had a really lovely relationship with her brother, who was devilish and had a boyfriend I would read an epic series about, and then Jack, who is the artist behind graffiti that has been popping mysteriously up all over San Fransisco. Their budding romance was kinda glorious, even if the fact Beatrice got involved when he showed all the signs of being trouble and that seemed to go against her nature.

But then the romance went from budding to full I can't live without you because I love-love you in two weeks. I didn't blame her mother for snorting. Other things I didn't:

-Forgive Beatrice for her behaviour and what she said to her mother
-Comprehend Beatrice's reasoming behind considering giving her awful dad a second chance just because he gave her an expensive, fancy present. No word for 3 years, manipulative behaviour before and after that, d-bag aura- why bother, I ask
-The obsessive turn of the romance. It was very much the world will end when I can't see you; I'll do something drastic if they pull us apart; we're together, the world works once more. They'd known each other less than a month, by this time
-HEAs that are unreasonable for the characters history and all plot lead up. It was very much like bam all problems forever are fixed in an instant
-(Spoiler) Characters who're so bitter when they don't win that, although they still got 2nd, they rant
-Characters who say, in blamey ways, only you knew when, in fact, at least one other person knew

The view of sex- Beatrice has had it before meeting Jack, but he hasn't- is really kind of fantastic, though, and then their sexual relationship. Possibly a little too perfect and fantastic and wonderful, but nice to see.

Rating: Oh noooo.
First half? Great! Super enjoyable, creative, fresh and sweet. The second went steeply and irrevocably downhill. It felt like two plot lines that were edited and came together in a way that made the characters act one way in the beginning and do a complete flip halfway through.

Friday, September 25, 2015

My OTP died (true story)

So this is something I wrote up a couple of years ago *looks far into distance resembling her past* in my tumblr days. It comes up every now and then in my itunes, because I totally recorded a version, and I felt like sharing it. This is set to the balled Forever and Always by Taylor Swift, which I used to adore (that acoustic version, though, seriously). I've actually also got one of these for YMCA, which I should totally finish writing. THE FILE IS STILL ON MY LAPTOP. And it's true, my OTP did die. I am a sad, sad reader for it.

Once upon a page
Finnick and Annie they'd just met
and things were going fine-
they'd caught onto something!
I look back to the night
I first read how she crept up on him

But what about Ron and Hermione?
They're perfect cause they're opposites
she's so darn brave
and he can be a big prat

oh my gods what happened
please tell me!
'cause these series' have ended
and I don't know how to process my thoughts

Is my fandom still alive?
My OTP died!
And now I need more
need more
need more
because for one second they were so damn happy

I've got tears down my face now
everything is gone
Ron and Hermione lasted but now they feel so wrong
because I found Dramione

Now onto J Maas
all of her ships broke my heart in about
Fifty. Different. Ways.
I don't know what part is left
and to be truthful?
I think I lost my soul

So here's to my new hope
coming down to nothing!
Here's to fanfic
that cuts me to the core!
Look where they were going
before they were torn apart by some author!

Is my fandom still alive?
My OTP died!
And now I need more
need more
need more
because for one second they were so damn happy

I've got tears down my face now
everything is gone
Violet and Quigley were so perfect but where've they gone?
And what about Lemony and Beatrice?
How could you do that to me?
I really don't know.

Sorty--- Scarfy!

Oh please no-
oh gods please no
How could you write that?
Please no-
oh gods please no
How can things end like that?

I've got tears down my face now
everything is gone
Is it time to mention Snape and Lily?
Because I don't think I could ever do that

Is my fandom still alive?
My OTP died!
And now I need more
need more
need more
Because for one second they were so damn happy

I've got tears down my face now
everything is gone
 Is there ever going to be a character who will
live infinitely?

How could you do that to me?
That one last kiss
*cries hysterically*

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mini Reviews (14)

Mini Reviews

KidGlovz- Julie Hunt and Dale Newman.
Kid Glovz is a story told through art just as strongly as words. I adore art in books so this kind of story always has an immediate grasp on my attention. I see so few of them that I always get incredibly excited- they're not quite graphic novels, nor comics and certainly not manga. Like Hugo Cabret, this is in a genre of it's own. Only thing is, Hugo Cabret, and after that Wonderstruck, were more, even, than they first appeared, and Kid Glovz was, unfortunately, not.

I quite enjoyed the story, the fantastical elements- it's set in a fictional universe, kind of, but one that's familiar?- but it felt under developed. Random, even, with the briskness and leaping of the pace, sequencing of events. The characters got little background or development and the whole comprehension of how it all came to be, how Kid Glovz became such a famous piano player, where he came from before he was found in a forest all alone, it was hazy, even when I'd turned the final page. I wasn't won over by the art, either, which could be beautiful at times but had an unfinished, hasty feeling to it.

Thank you to Allen and Unwin for these review copies!
Image source: Allen and Unwin.

Image source: Allen and Unwin.
The Imaginary- A. F. Harrold.
The Imaginary tells the story of Rudger, the imagined friend of Amanda (we think, to begin with, that it's her story), and I smiled at the description early on that only the most creative people are able to create imaginary friends.
Because I had two.
So obviously the discussion is one very close to my heart and I was all for this story. Imaginary friends formed a safe, happy time in my life, so I imagined this would be all whimsy and delightful imaginings. Safety.

I very nearly DNF'ed. It was dark, scary, even violent. Someone gets their finger bitten off (imaginary to imaginary, but it was a proper finger), people get swallowed, hit by cars- it was a no-holds-back kind of story and felt like horror for children. I was, at times, supremely uncomfortable. I don't like scary things! The MG book freaked me! But seriously. From the cover? You don't expect it. I did not expect it.
Amanda, too, was fairly-kinda-really unlikable. I like to remember treating my darling imaginaries far better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Becoming who I am in this moment.

I want to be a Mary-Lou Novak of wild girls, one who listens to the songs beneath their skin and own their sexuality, realising it’s nobody’s right but their own. I want to be a woman who is seamless and yet cut from a fabric that is stitched with glorious difference and stories that are mighty to behold, stories that are my truths. I want converses and winged eyeliner and books that make my skin breathe and sing and help me to become the person I want to be, now. I want a different colour of henna whenever I need it. I want fierceness for it’s protection, for my selfish needs. I want a barrier between my fragile self and the self people see and can touch, a barrier that is like a blanket, encircling and harnessing me, because if anyone, anyone touches that inner barricade that I feel at my very core I might very well shatter.
Because I am so fragile I can’t even bear it.
Because I know what it’s like to not be able to bear it, and it's the worst thing I can imagine having to live through again. I don’t want to know it for a second time, I tell myself in every moment that shows it lurching towards me once more.

I have shuddered with tears and been weighed down with a heaviness I couldn’t disconnect myself from. Eating issues- disorder. Dreadful, unstoppable sadness- depression. Stifledness- anxiety.
Fear- of trust.
Fear-of brokenness.
Fear- of others.
Fear- of myself.

Isn’t it about time I found my true self, I ask, because I’ve spent so long thinking I have, only to realise it’s something else, only to realise that my true self is nothing more than a cloak I am able to change intermittently. But maybe that’s just it, for me or for all of us- maybe all we can get, all we are able to get, is a true self that lasts not forever, not from when we are born to the day we die, but merely a moment. A true self that is what you need when you need it, not what you need from the beginning and forever after.
It makes sense.
We’re changing every instant, every breathed moment, so how can one thing sustain us without changing? What if the person I am now, the person I am still becoming, is what I need in this moment- a fierce, bad-ass woman who hides her fears and clothes herself in her passions. And if I need someone softer, someone more touchable, then I will become that person. And it’ll be different, but it’ll still be me.

Do I need to be born the person I am? Or can I become that person, when I need them.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy... MY FAVOURITE READ OF 2015!

Publish date- September 16th, 2015.
Publisher- Penguin Random House.
RRP- $17.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Willowdean is a self confessed fat girl and Dolly Parton fan. She may let her love for Dolly work at defining her, but her weight? It's a non issue, and she doesn't mind making sure everyone knows. Until she starts to fall for someone, and all her insecurities come to the surface. So she enters a pagent. Obviously she's going to rock it.

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

What I thought:
Dumplin'. Oh, Dumplin'. Recently I commented that a review for my favourite book of the year was upcoming, and here it is. Dumplin' sets high stakes for the future of contempoary novels I'll read, and high stakes for the rest of the year.

Dumplin' tells the story of Willowdean, a girl who is brave, insecure, fierce, scared and not afraid to say what she thinks or let others define her by her weight. She is a character I stood alongside with complete joy and love, through good and bad. The development of her character was so strong, from this fierce, I won't hold for your shit character, to a girl who hated herself for becoming insecure and the things she wished she were not. And her honesty during all of it, the way she acted so that others didn't realise anything was differet, the way she forced herself to make it a non-issue rather than finding a way to address it, it was powerfully done. It resonated with me.

Now, Will isn't all good. She says some horrible things, doesn't forgive because she wasn't in the wrong and probably doesn't look at her actions as critically as the actions of others. But there's just something about her that had me only giving her a vague side eye, because I supported her all the way without ever realising it.

I did think with a yelp of joy that here would be a relationship, with Bo and Will, where the issues wouldn't brew, would be talked about before they could, and that wasn't, unfortunately, the case. The case was that drama could've been avoided. But eh. Anyone got the fact I love Will yet? (Also, there's a, ahm, love triangle? I didn't struggle with it, with the choice, and it was done kinda fantastically.)

The Dolly Parton night scene, btw? And all scenes involving those characters- drag queens, a bar owner in a I think relationship with one and a history with Will's dead aunt, those scenes? They were gorgeous. As was the friendship between Will, Hannah, Millie and Amanda, who band together because they aren't the "beauty standard" but they enter the pagent anyway. (There is also sexual diversity in there and it's done in a way that is so sodding better than lesbian best friend.) Will's mother, however, was... awful, a lot of the time. The kind of person who would tell her daughter that a diet would make her happy (as would a man! Yay!), but I loved Will for standing up to her and for herself. And for introducing me to Jolene by Ms. Dolly Parton.

Rating: Big explosion MIND BLOWN. FAVOURITE READ OF 2015!
This book is complex and hard hitting and I needed it when I was younger but I also needed it right now. It's about more than a "fat girl entering a pagent" and more than falling in love desperately. And I'm so incredibly thankful for that. For the fact it takes honesty and hard words and friendships that slide apart and not necessarily back together and the fact that being fierce is wonderful but so is being vulnerable and sucker punches it to you.

Friday, September 18, 2015

How to be Happy by David Burton...

Publish date- August 26th, 2015.
Publisher- Text Publishing.
RRP- $19.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A YA memoir about a guy growing up, what it's like to have depression and not know how to get through each day, discovering sexuality and navigating the world.

Thanks to Text Publishing for this review copy!
Image source: Text Publishing.

What I thought:
So this is going to be really difficult to review. Take Chiara's review and give it only 1 kitty and basically that is how I felt.

But I can't write just that as a review, huh?
So. I'm going to listify it to try and get my thoughts down best-

1. David Burton is a real person who wrote a memoir- this- about his youthhood. All I know is I did not get along with the person who the story was about. He came across as arrogant, oblivious and cruel. He made choices I couldn't stand by and did a lot of things that made me mad, and I didn't like that.

2. The sexuality element, which is supposed to be a focus, is unclearly defined and brushed off by the end by not even being mentioned. It feels like it's gay or straight and the way bisexuality is is so often shown as being a cheaters option in everyday life angers me enough. Bisexuality, here, is mentioned in an "I didn't think of it" way- but did you later? We don't find out.

3. In high school he's he only friend of a boy with a form of Asbergers. This friendship is fairly well abandoned as Dave finds other friends, yet he says he was still kind to Ray. Immediately following this? Seriously, a couple of sentences later: a scene where he bullied him. That angers me so intently I may very well boil over. THAT is not kindness. You were his only friend and you turned on him for no reason.

4. Calling, mentally or otherwise, people bitches? That is not on. You just entered Romi's rage territory, folks. Sure, her actions weren't right, but tell the woman instead of smiling and internally cussing.

5. Really unhealthy, obsessive love- it was super uncomfortable.

6. Acting... like a faggot? The only acceptible notion here is that you were pretending to be kindling, but I'm thinking that's not what was meant.

Rating: This is the worst possible time for an explosion.
I was offended, I was angered, I definitely didn't feel Happy at any time, nor did I get an answer- or steps- as to the way of being happy. I was insatiably furied.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E. L. Koigsburg...

Publish date- June 24, 2015. (Originally published in 1967)
Publisher- Pushkin Children's Classics.
RRP- $16.99


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A brother and sister make a plan and decide to run away from home. But they can't run away without having somewhere to run to, and the obvious choice? The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, where they will have many a fascinating adventure and surprising discovery.

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

What I thought:
This has a stunning cover. The colour. The typography. It is the type of cover that could get me really worked up over how gosh darn fantastic it is. And it also depicts the story so well. The children do look a little... oddly shaped, but it's fantastic overall! What more could one ask?

This was my first time reading this book, a classic, and as I read I got the feeling it would turn out to be an okay book. I'd like elements of it, like Claudia reasoning as to where she'd run away to, but then it also wasn't really captivating or powerful.

Oh. Let us all laugh, loudly, at my ignorance. How hopeless I was. Ridiculous, really, that I couldn't see how gosh darn joyous a read this was going to be.
The story goes along and the siblings bicker a bit and they sleep in the Met museum and become independent but also dependent on each other, and then there are these moments, out of nowehere and everywhere, that describe what Claudia is waiting for, the change she yearns to feel that'll make her different from how she was, moments where the siblings companionship, their being a team, are painted, and it's so simple and yet so utterly gorgeous. And you just hang off every other word because once you've seen that special moment you realise that they're all around and you just needed to see a bigger one to be able to realise the smaller ones.

It's got such an interesting plot, too, that follows the siblings trying to discover whether a sculpture of an angel is by Michelangelo and the mystery of their search. It weaves in and out of the story artfully and, although wasn't the main focus, was so important to carrying the story along.

Rating: Ooh, very good.
Surprising, subtle and exquisite. This was fairly gorgeous, all things being considered. AND NOT JUST ON THE EXTERIOR.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Peony Lantern by Frances Watts...

Publish date- August 1st, 2015.
Publisher- ABC Books.
RRP- $16.99 (AUD)

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The story of a girl bought from her village in 19th century Japan to Edo, a city unlike anything she's ever dreamed of. And with more secrets than she can imagine.

Thank you to Harper Collins for this review copy!
Image source: Harper Collins.

What I thought:
The Peony Lantern reminded me of stories I read as a child. A strong, lively, outspoken heroine leads the story and you know, right from the off, that she's more than anyone has ever given her respect for. It reminde me of Jackie French, Anna Cidor and Carol Wilkinson.

And it was nice to be back in that sort of story, featuring an unfamiliar land in a time period I knew little about, and in general I did enjoy The Peony Lantern, if not, primarily, for the reasons I was supposed to. Kasumi's behaviour, unthinking, golly let's hate and then forever-more swoon wasn't particularly to my liking. For someone leaving her village to be a ladies maid, she also had a lot of choice and freedom, she felt represented as an equal in a way that, even with the friendship cultivated between her and her mistress, felt far too wide. I didn't feel like the limitations she felt were strong enough to be believable.
The plot moved along without really making it clear to me where it was going and what it's primary ARC was, so it didn't feel particularly strong- even if I was still able to plesantly enjoy it. The stakes were high-ish, but that didn't matter a great deal to me. Just being in a story that carried me along easily was really enjoyable and just what I needed, without even realising it.

It did have more issues, though. Insta-love that was hate for a handful of pages and resulted in dramatics I squinted at (the romance, too, was just too ooh here we are love love love for me to even attempt appreciating it); certain words were explained in a way that might have made it easier to comprehend for people who don't speak Japanese, but it made the pages, many a time, suffer as characters explained to those who should reasonably know that Kasumi is, you know, a ladies maid. With other words it got annoying and repetitive; the characters didn't elicit emotion from me. I just never got to caring for them.

The ending was the major disappointment. It felt like it came out of nowhere and wasn't really led up to, down from, throughly enough. And then- luck! for some characters and others not even revisited, not really, despite how important they had been.

Rating: Hmmm...
It was enjoyable, despite a handful of irritations; not captivating or emotionally powerful,  but enjoyable. The end, however, was not.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Want to read some of my writing? The 777 tag!

The ever glorious Chiara tagged me in the 777 writing tag, first sharing a snippet of her incredible sounding WIP that makes me want all the pages now.
I'm incredibly excited about this tag because for the past three years I've been teasing, suggesting and working on a book I wrote called AVT, which s a shortening for it's real name- I even just put up a small synopsis of it (and many other works I've written) here, and shared my editing process here!- and it's about time I actually shared some content, even if it's only a small amount. Basically you go to page 7, line 7, and share the following 7 lines. Chiara cheated, so I see it as perfectly fine that I'm going to, too. I'm sharing 8 lines. Rebel, Rebel.

So. Ahm. Enjoy? #internallyscreaming

‘Idiot,’ the man across from [NAME] hisses, brushing his own hood back. It’s impossible to take him in with anything less than admiration. Although he’s sitting there is a sense of regality about him, even with the fact he’s at least eighty and has disposed of more royals than any self respecting monarchy would know what to do with. The wrinkles covering his skin only make him seem the more fierce, and his faint smile? It’s sent more than one to the end.

‘Shall I retrieve the body, [NAME]?’

‘No point,’ he says with a sigh. ‘What of the trainees?’

‘I left them.’

I feel like I shoud have a sidenote on the fact I'm amused by the idiot comment because It. Is. So. Tame.
And now I've shared my decade's quota of writing!

Obviously you shouldn't take my writing and claim it as your own. It'd make me very grumpy, crankly and overall fiesty. Please respect that the words that my brain spills are my own and I'd like, rather a lot, to keep them my own.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Wandering Son #1-8 by Takako Shimura.

Publish date- 2003, 2011 in English.
Publisher- Fantagraphics.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The journey of a boy who wants to be a girl and a girl who wants to be a boy as they go through middle school and high school.

What I thought:
Wandering Son is a passion of mine. Beautifully, emotionally, honestly and heart-wrenchingly told, it is the story, primarily, of a boy who wishes to be a girl and a girl who wishes to be a boy. And it tells this story in a way that makes me want to swear colourfully and with passion in an effort to convey just how incredibly well done and real it is. The presence, the comprehension, the growing power of this need to be recognised as a gender to which our protagonists, Nitori and ? were not born carries the story and leads them to acts of bravery and friendship; they form a bond, these two incredible souls, and it does get risked. Aspects of their friendship get found out at school, and among the people who are real friends, quirky and ever present and full of childhood’s solidarity, are also bullies and manipulators and people who are scared or stupid or don’t understand. And they do hurtful things, these people, and they don’t even think about it. There is clever, wily manipulation that I loath and in the later volumes plot lines have strayed in directions, particularly with the most recently published edition (#8), that I’m not particularly happy with- mostly because I want my characters, these people I cherish and love and want to protect and hug, to be happy- genuine as these plot lines continue to be.

It is a detailed, gradual manga, the dialogue simple and fast to get through. Time isn’t sacrificed, though- we get to understand and comprehend the characters, the ones we love and the ones we loath, intimately and gradually, each volume taking us a step further on the path of their lives.

Rating: Big explosion MIND BLOWN.
Wandering Son isn't perfection. I mean, I don't really believe in perfection but that's another discussion I probably won't have. But it's real. It's genuine. It's incredibly heartwarming and breaking and excellent in many, many ways.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lorali by Laura Dockrill.

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

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
A retelling of The Little Mermaid. I'm sorry- I really don't know what else to say.

Thanks to Hot Key Books for this review copy!
Image source: Five Mile Press.

What I thought:
Lorali was a beautifully designed cover that held a story full of things I dislike with a furious passion. It bought out my sticky notes in all their power and my copy has 25 in varying colours throughout it, one marking a paragraph that was rather amusing and clever, showing the Sea as rather deliciously sarcastic and wily. The rest... were little notes for my fury and anguish.

This book, apparently a reimagining of The Little Mermaid, only my favourite fairytale, is told from the point of view of Rory, the guy who finds Lorali, the mermaid who came up out of The Sea, who conveniently shows us any other area of action that could potentially involve salt water and be of interest to the story. This last one was an interesting move, but felt far too contrived (and the sea kept asking if I wanted to do such and such and assuming my answer was always yes, which annoyed me endlessly) for me to enjoy.

It’s quite a peculiar book, feeling MG except for all the derogatory terminology and sexual references; the characters didn’t seem like they really fitted their placement. It reminded me, in the feel and moments of that peculiar darkness, of Fairytales for Wilde Girls, although in the end I enjoyed that a lot and this, this left me infuriated and angry.

So let’s really get into that, shall we.

*Lorali’s POV was, for around half the book, told in single. Words. Intense. Expressions. Occasionally a sentence. Mostly. Just. Single. Words. And that was annoying.
  • Rory is a bit of a git and, character that he is, he hates (on sight) people (okay, sirens, although I’m pretty sure they were meant to be harpies- the descriptors were kinda inaccurate) why like sex because they are sluts.
  • The siren/harpies have very explicit, out of place scenes (as told by The Sea) that always felt rather off and put a bad taste in my mouth. It was like they’d been pulled from an adult story and put into a MG-YA.
  • The use of online sites and newspaper articles to show the mermaid mania was really not an element of enjoyment for me. The articles seemed to take the mermaid’s word as truth at a moments notice and didn’t feel professional, and the sites... had over indulged in pop culture terminology to an extent that Lydia Bennett would’ve faltered at.
  • Rory, him again, seemed a self conscious type- possibly this is already obvious- although I never realised that being happy for someone and having a lingering look makes you lose matey-points and seem like a pervert.
  • There’s a really weird sex scene. It’s just... really odd.
  • Rory (!!!) also mentally calls people tarts. Because he must protect his previous Lorali from the nasty tarts.
  • Predictable dramatics.
  • Squinty (and predictable) insta love. And I mean love-love.
  • There seems to be an odd focus on these women (not the siren/harpies, though, because we’re kind of supposed to hate them like Rory, I felt) being small, lean, etc. but still being curved perfectly. I sense perfect bodies being a theme.
  • The disgusting “bros before hos” term is used.
  • Very out of the blue character backstory that entailed possibly irrelevant abuse and rape scene.
  • Sudden what if I can’t trust her moment that lasted five seconds.
  • Very peculiar language and sentence structure. I love that it’s set in Hastings, UK, but the British slang felt overdone.
  • The sixteen year old Rory calls his friends the boys. Not mates, fellows, guys. Boys.
  • Full caps were used. A lot. And if someone’s arm is ripped off then I imagine they might swear, especially being pirates and all. But this was the one time they didn’t.
  • And the ending was just... very quickly done, easily got over, convenient.



Monday, September 7, 2015

The early mornings in which I write.

I wake up early. My alarm has a sticker over it because no one needs such loudness so very early. The sun hasn't risen-
or it has-
and I get up. My head feels full, messy, until I've worked through my tasks to the boiling of the water and have a cup of tea, a cooled face.
And I go back to bed.
I write, curtains open, eyes darting again and again to the day as it breaks-
or continues to break-
as the trees sway and their leafy fingers twirl in ways I don't always notice, don't always spend an extra moment to take in. I feel like I could cry, when I realise how much I miss every. single. moment. My head isn't bowed so often, so completely, as it should be, my attention early on... lax. But I continue.
Words skitter out from my pen and onto the paper before me, the ink thick or thin and interchangable.
Daily. Monthly. Weekly. Hourly.
It stains my fingers and when I look at my hands, along the cracks and curves and lines that make up the flesh I control and contort in ways that always surprise me, red, purple, black, blue ink stains them.
I cherish it.
Sometimes I have a goal. Sometimes I have music. Sometimes I let my goal be decided by my gut, the music be the world awakening around me as I sit in bed and write pages of text that one day I'll edit, reform, discard, rediscover.

All of it is important. All of it is necessary- even when it isn't. Because it makes me happy. It makes me feel alive and real and wholer than I always know how to be.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

My individualistic writing and editing process of terror.

I like learning about the way people uniquely create. Being a human who loves words in basically all formats, I particularly enjoy learning how people experience stories. Being a human who also writes stories, I like learning how other people go through this process. Cait recently shared her editing process and I enjoyed learning about it so much that, hey, I decided to do the same. So. Let's begin.

Step 1.
Writing the novel. It is the most sensible way to begin, for me.

Step 2.
I write my novels by hand, finding that typing out a fresh story gives me mega mind block, so step two is... transcribing. It's helpful as a preliminary, spell-check edit, although I leave it mostly to it's bareness at this stage.

Step 3.
The first edit. I'll print my entire manuscript off and read through it with a journal at my side. The printed edition will gradually get covered in notes, edits and lines to signal cut all the words. In the journal I'll write out ideas, character backgrounds, world info and extra scenes that don't quite fit in the margins of my edit. I'll also crack jokes for my future transcribing self. And doodle immeasurably in the margins.
Then I transcribe these hand edits back onto the computer.

Step 4.
I give it around three months break and come back refreshed to, laughingly, call this the read through, imagining it'll be quicker than the first edit and won't really involve the intensity of editing that round 1 did. I'm always wrong and realise this within three pages. This becomes, then, edit number two and is just as intense, re: cutting, rewriting and devising as the first, although the journal is nowhere to be seen.
More transcribing. I fancify the format of the novel- double spacing, font size, all of it- here. Recently, this stage involved adding explitives into my novel.
It quickly because evident it wasn't even possibly MG anymore.

Step 5.
This is the next read through. It, too, becomes an edit.
More transcribing.
In my most recent edit I went through about five pens in this stage.With my current WIP I'm almost at this stage.

Kasta, I have to say, loves my work. She spends so much time just sleeping at my side, on my lap, with her face on the corner of my manuscript. I even made an #editingwithkasta tag.
Step 6.
I get to the stage, by this point, of being really, really, really ready with the novel. I'm super proud of it, and myself, and I'm glad since it's had a couple hundred hours poured into it by this stage. I get in contact with critique partners and friends and share my story.

Step 7.
Agent searching.

Editing is arguably my favourite part of the writing process. I get frustrated and angry with my novel, sure, but I get to spend a different level and type of time with the characters, and working so endlessly to ensure my manuscript is how I envisioned it in the best possible way. I get a really different feel for the characters, during this one, and they become that bit realer. That bit creepier. Really, here, they become more than characters in my head. They become *sings* friends.

So that's my writing/editing/process of terror. And at this point, I'm off to work on the last point of stage number 5.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.

Publish date- 2013.
Publisher- Macmillan Audio.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The second installment in the Lunar Chronicles takes on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. You meet Scarlet, fiercely protective and determined, and Wolf, a street fighter with a dark past. *ghosts murmur mysteriously*

What I thought:
Scarlet marks another successful step in my journey to listening to all of the Lunar Chronicles books on audio- but by successful... it certainly was not the story I had expected. I did enjoy it a bit more than Cinder overall, particularly the ending which was verging on truly great in it’s intensity and all of it, really, but I faced a range of issues in Scarlet and most of them revolved around the title character.

Scarlet was... annoying. I love the way she is completely willing to risk herself to get her grandmother back, because that’s how much she loves her, but she was so frustrating at times and reversely awesome at times. She stands for herself. She won’t be used or let down by the people around her. She’ll fight.
But she is way(yyyyy) too trusting of Wolf, and I really, really did not like him. The predictability overall in Scarlet was less, but it was obvious to me Wolf was a dangerous one, and yet even when she knew she just kept on giving him chances. She put herself at risk because she trusted him, after knowing (*spoiler* and being grievously betrayed by) him for a week.
When I felt the oncoming tide of remorse I stood firmly against it. I’m not as unforgiving as Scarlet, no way.

I did start to like Cinder more here, and the other new addition: Thorn! Kai, in his few moments, is still thick headed (the fact no one guesses the truth gets to me) and frustrating, although perhaps my sympathies are more with him here.

All in all it was an exciting story, but for the first 75-80% a rather disengaging, disappointing one. And I mean, come on- Wolf’s eyes can’t be that great.

Rating: Not Hmm all the way, no, but for a lot of the time.
Things are progressing (I mean, I started liking Cinder!), but Wolf and Scarlet weren't characters I liked a lot and overall the story just isn't something I'm all the invested in, in this segment. I liked it a lot more towards the end, but it took about 80% of the book to get to that stage and that's a long time to wait.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Captive Prince by C. S. Pacat.

Publish date- 2015.
Publisher- Penguin.

Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
The twisting tale of a prince sent to the lands of his enemy to be a pleasure slave and his efforts to get back to his homeland and the throne that is rightfully his.

What I thought:
I was pulled immediately into this story, the world clear and massively intriguing only finding the cast of characters a little wide and difficult to follow at first- there are many and their roles specific- and always, through every uncomfortable scene and horrific action that followed, the story held me by its simple yet expressive flow and its ways of showing me Damen, his thoughts, wishes, fears, and how being thrown into a new world, seeing all that he treasured and loved torn away from him, affected him.

But... it wasn't enough, because every time someone was raped I would falter. I would hope it wouldn't happen again. I would hope the almost demonic prince Laurent would stand up, fight against the horrors that happened all around his court. I hoped that he and Damen (since I knew they had an eventual romance) would fight for justice together! and then fall into each other’s arms, maybe, or at least something like that. I didn't expect... what actually happened. And I didn't expect it to hit me so hard.
I didn’t anticipate Laurent, who I expected so much from, would instigate Damen's second rape. I didn't think he would stand by, cooly, and istruct another to do that awful thing. And no matter how gorgeous a couple the two princes may make later on, this single scene has stuck with me and it infuriates me, sickens me, and shakes up everything I had hoped this book would give me. And I don't believe I'll ever be able to pair these two up for romance. I can't imagine Damen will be out for anything but vengeance.

The rest of the book, really, despite having an intriguing premise, being written very well, and giving the promise of so much, to consist more of torture, explicitly crude humor, and rape, rather than plot, character and relationship building. And whilst Damen may be a shining example of self righteousness, and the book may show same sex couples in a light that was truly wonderful and made me proud, and I may have read it in two days and felt I was carried along swiftly (for my reading at the time, for slumps do abound), but I was also horrified, distressed, and uncomfortable. The fact no one in this world seems to blink an eye at rape, apart from Damen who comes from another kingdom, was... a little bit terrifying.

Rating: Whatever comes between Poor and Oh Noooo.
This wasn't a particularly positive experience, and it's all the worse because I had been so looking forward to it. I'm not planning on stepping into this world again, although Chiara may yet convince me.