18 Nov 2015

Hello fellow bloggers!
 Just letting you all know that WKRN is moving to a new home over on WordPress! All of my latest reviews have been posted over there and I'm currently in the process of moving all my older reviews over, as well.

17 Nov 2015

#TTT: Top 10 Quotes I Loved From the Books I've Read This Year

Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be." - Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes

“Inej had once offered to teach him how to fall. "The trick is not getting knocked down," he'd told her with a laugh. "No, Kaz," she'd said, "the trick is in getting back up.”  - Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

“There was dishonour, she decided, in accepting someone else’s idea of honour without question.”- Marie Rutkoski, The Winner's Crime

"Pity those who don't feel anything at all." - Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses

“I think you should be angry if you're angry. But it's also true that hate has a way of hurting you more than the person you're hating.”Stephanie Oakes, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

"Sometimes it seems like everyone knows who I am except me." Becky Albertalli, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

"Which is what one always hopes will happen: for life to take over and be bigger and more marvelous than what we can dream up on our own. Life doesn’t need magic to be magical." - Laini Taylor,  Night of Cake and Puppets

“War is not for winning, Masha," sighed Koschei, reading the tracks of supply lines, of pincer strategies, over her shoulder. "It is for surviving" - Catherynne M. Valente, Deathless

"If you know someone's fear, you know them." - Victoria Aveyard, Red Queen

“Our sacrifice is greater than his. Our boys give only themselves. We give them.” - L.M. Montgomery, Rilla of Ingleside


3 Nov 2015

#TTT: Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward to Their Sophomore Novels

I haven't read a lot of debut authors whose work has immediately made me go, "WHOA, I'VE GOT TO PUT THEM ON MY AUTO-READ LIST!" If their debuts did make me have that reaction, it was most likely a trilogy that had me hooked. For this reason, I've only included six books for this week's Top Ten Tuesday. Not all are from 2015 (with so many YA authors knocking out a book or two a year, it's easy to forget that many authors take a lot longer to produce one novel), but all have left an impression on me.

The Sacred Lies of
Minnow Bly

by Stephanie Oakes


 The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is my favourite book of 2015, and it's definitely one that deserved more love than it got. It was such a surprise - I stumbled across it at my local QBD and picked it up on the blurb alone. It's a near perfect novel, and everything that I wanted from a novel. The characters are well-drawn and the book is well-plotted. If this is Oakes' debut novel, I cannot wait to see what her follow-up will be like.







Simon vs the Homo
Sapiens Agenda
by
Becky Albertalli


This book is so fluffy and adorable. I was squeeing throughout the entirety of it. It also took me back to my teenage years - sometimes when you get older, your relationships change and it's easier to let go than force it to work. This book captured that feeling of trying to hold onto that friendship and being unsure whether it would work. I appreciated that although this book did have a romance, it was Simon's friendships that were the real focal point of the story. Friendships are really something that's not featured enough in YA (how many times have you read a book and the protagonist - usually female - ignores all their friends in favour of their love interest? How frustrating is it?).




Red Queen by
Victoria Aveyard

Full disclosure: I'm excited for Red Queen because that ending. In all honesty, Red Queen was a bit hit and miss, but everything picked up steam during the last hundred pages or so and it got me really excited for what happens next. There are a lot of common YA tropes in this one, but there are also a lot of political plays and everything - right down to the love square - is strategic. Red Queen may be Aveyard's debut novel, but she's a solid writer and I cannot wait to see where she takes the trilogy next.






An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir

 This book went where few YA novels ever really do. It raised the stakes for its protagonists to the point where I actually wasn't sure whether or not they'd make it out of the book alive. The characters were nuanced - not always good, but not necessarily evil - and the book was able to evoke strong emotions in me. At one point I was feeling raw, blind hatred - anybody who has read the book can probably guess why - and I think that's the sign of a good book. Tahir produced a strong debut, and I can't wait to read not only her follow up to An Ember in the Ashes, but any and all of her future work.





The Strange and Beautiful
Sorrows of Ava Lavender

by Leslye Walton

 The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was actually released in 2014, and it's been stuck in my mind ever since. Like the title implies, this book is both beautiful and strange. Despite the story spanning across three generations in three hundred-ish pages, Walton manages to develop all of her characters and tell a wonderful story that doesn't leave the reader wanting. This book is filled with such whimsy and raw emotion, it is gorgeous and so, so haunting.







The Golem and the Djinni
by Helene Wecker

 The Golem and the Djinni is such a well-written, self-assured novel that it's hard to believe that it's Wecker's debut novel. I remember always being reluctant to put this book down, and constantly thinking about it when I did. The characters are wonderfully drawn, and you are able to feel their desperation to connect to those around them and questioning what it means to be human. Even the background characters are three-dimensional, and you can't help but marvel at all the work Wecker must have put into this novel. I cannot wait for her next novel!





 What are some debut authors that I'm missing from my list? Don't forget to comment below with your Top Ten so I can see some authors I'm missing!

27 Oct 2015

#TTT: Top Ten Books to Read Around Halloween

I have to start off by saying that Halloween isn't really a big deal in Australia, so I was kind of scratching my head over what to write. I remember reading Goosebumps as a child and being confused over what trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns were. I settled on picking some of my favourite gothic & horror novels:

8 Oct 2015

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

Release Date: 17th March 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Page Count: 256
Format: Paperback | Purchased

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Synopsis (from GR): This is the full script of Hold Me Closer, the musical written by and staring Tiny Cooper, from the novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson, written by David Levithan and John Green. Filled with humour, pain, and 'big, lively, belty' musical numbers, readers will finally learn the full story of Tiny Cooper from his birth and childhood to his quest for love and his infamous eighteen ex-boyfriends.

My thoughts: HOLD ME CLOSER, TINY DAAAANCERRR! Surely I am not the only person who sings this song in their head whenever they hear the title. First things first: if you have not read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, then this book will probably not make any sense to you. Even though it is only a companion novel, it basically assumes that you've read the novel and know the events of WG, WG. This book spoke to me on a spiritual level - so many times I've picked up an American novel and been confused by any reference to the American education system (let's not talk about how long it took me to work out what 'middle school' and 'junior high' high), sports, or... pretty much anything. A book that references Bernadette Peters and Idina Menzel is my kind of book. 

Hold Me Closer was a totally new, totally unique reading experience. I read this in the space of about two hours - it's written as the libretto to a (incredibly badly-written) musical, so it is quite a quick read. The stage directions were where Tiny's personality really shone through. At points they literally had me laughing out loud, at others they hadn't me feeling all the feelings. It's the story of a boy who so desperately wants to be loved and find some self-worth. It's also a little snapshot into living a life where everybody already has preconceived notions about who you are and who you should be. It's gorgeous and joyous and wonderful. 

My only complaint is that it's hard to pin down the time period for this - WG, WG was published a few years ago, yet this contains 2015 pop cultures references. Clearly Tiny is not still sixteen and in high school.

Finally: it's really difficult reading a musical in book form and not knowing how the songs should sound (I found myself making up a tune to sing for pretty much every song). I need someone to get this on the stage already!

 

6 Oct 2015

#TTT: Top Ten Books I Haven't Finished Recently

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's prompt is:
Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit Or Have Quit (aka ten book series I think I'm going to abandon, ten bookish habits I want to quit, ten authors I quit reading, ten types of books I'm quitting, ten tropes I want to stop reading about, ten books I marked as DNF (did not finish) recently, etc. Get as creative as you want)
I am the Queen of buying books and then leaving them on my shelf to collect dust, or beginning to read books and taking months to finish them, so I figured for this week's prompt it would be a good idea to pick ten books I haven't gotten around to finishing.

Don't forget to comment below with some of the books you haven't gotten around to finishing!

16 Sep 2015

Brain Soup Goes Gilmore: The Wizard of Oz

Brain Soup Goes Gilmore is back, hurrah! Dayeanne and Felicity skipped June to revamp the book club, but somehow a month-long break turned into a three month break (and I started wondering whether it was gone for good). They've done a lot of stuff to make the BSGG more interactive and flexible for members, which is interesting. This time around, they picked a few books that were mentioned in the show and allowed club members to pick a book (or a few books) to read. As it has been awhile, they started off with something simple - children's literature! I was quite excited by this option, because children's lit can be quite whimsical and off-beat. While I am familiar with the general narrative of most of the stories on the list, I had only read one of this month's options, and ultimately decided to go with something I hadn't read before. The options for this month were:




  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Babe
  • The Little Match Girl
  • Judy Blume (any book by her, as she's referenced multiple times in the show)
  • Rapunzel
  • Snow White & Red Rose
  • The Scarecrow of Oz
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Stuart Little
  • Bambi

I was tossing up between The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, but ultimately went with the former because I've never read it, even though I've had the Puffin Chalk edition sitting on my shelf for awhile now (but also because it's Alice in Wonderland's 150th anniversary in November, so I'm planning on saving my reread for then).  This one was, as presumably intended (by Daye and Felicity), a quick read - I read it in one sitting. Having grown up watching the film adaptation multiple times, I actually had low expectations going in. However, the film had changed more than I expected, so there were enough differences to keep me interested. The book is actually episodic, with Dorothy & co. encountering a new person or obstacle to overcome in each chapter. Rather than being an ever-present threat as she is in the film, the Wicked Witch of the West is introduced and killed off in a single chapter. I also finally found out why Glinda didn't just tell Dorothy how the shoes worked when they first met in the film - because she was filling the role of two characters (please believe me when I say that it has been bugging me for years). The books is charming, funny, and witty and I imagine would be enjoyed by children of all ages - it makes me sad I didn't get to visit this book in my childhood.

The Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Release Date: 3rd November 2010
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback | Borrowed

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Plot Synopsis (from GR): In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a homeless man who glows like a living sun to her strange sight. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city.

Oree's peculiar guest is at the heart of it, his presence putting her in mortal danger -- but is it him the killers want, or Oree? And is the earthly power of the Arameri king their ultimate goal, or have they set their sights on the Lord of Night himself?


My thoughts:  I kept sitting down to write this review, and finding that I couldn't properly put into words how I felt about this book. The Broken Kingdoms just took all my criticisms of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and shattered them. Jemisin took all the best aspects of the prequel and created an engrossing, unique story, and her growth as a writer between these two books is absolutely astounding - her world was so much more fully realised in The Broken Kingdoms, as opposed to the scattered lore and 'oral' story-telling of the first book. 

As I had previously assumed, The Broken Kingdoms focuses on a new set of characters, with the main characters of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - Seih, Naha, Yeine - making cameo appearances in this one. Our heroine, Oree, is a blind painter who is able to 'see' magic and is plagued by gods and godlings. It's been ten years since the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and the world is trying to make sense of the day that Itempas fell, Nahadoth was freed, and Enefa was reborn. While the Arameri have lost their power and the other Kingdoms are starting to regain their freedom, the full effects of these events on the political and religious institutions is still yet to be seen. Oree comes across a dead godling,which is an impossibility as only gods have the ability to do something like this. This is part of a larger plot concerning political factions and religious fanatics, and brings about
questions identity and the power balance between the three major gods in Jemisin's world. 


My favourite character in this book (and this is going to get a little spoilery) was Shiny, the mortal form of Itempas, living out his penance as part of the curse Yeine put on him at the end of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Watching his character growth over the course of this book was fantastic. It's a Faith Lehane-level redemption arc, but I think it's also Shiny/Itempas trying to forge a new identity for himself. In the first book, we get a version of events from the people that he wronged - mostly Nahadoth and Sieh. In this book, we get Itempas' version of events, and are able to come to the realisation that Itempas did know what he was doing was wrong - and why it was wrong - and also get to a point where we can empathise with him. 

What fascinates me with this series is how Jemisin manages to balance the everyday with the bigger picture. Through telling the stories of Yeine and Oree, Jemisin is able to tell the story of Enefa, Nahadoth and Itempas and explore their relationships with one another and with the universe that they created. I found Oree to be a much more compelling heroine than Yeine, possibly because her narrative was far less grandiose than Yeine's. Oree's narrative feels focused and intimate - I was able to get a better understanding of Oree and empathise with her far more than I ever did with Yeine (I think it helped that Jemisin dropped the 'oral history' style of the first book). 

If I have any criticism of this novel - or trilogy, rather - it is this: the heroines seem to be rather helpless. As in, they are victims of circumstance. If they know something bad is going to happen to them, they accept it rather than try to change it. I found this incredibly frustrating - if you know you were going to die but could stop it from happening, why wouldn't you? Oree's actions were rarely empowering, and her thoughts and plans seemed to require validation from other characters. Oh, and the pacing - it was mostly consistent, but then we got to the climax and everything was a bit flurried and at one point I was just like, "WHAT IS GOING ON?"

The Broken Kingdoms is a much better book than its predecessor, and it's wonderful to see an author who works on her craft and grows better with each book (having read Jemisin's glorious Dreamblood duology before the Inheritance trilogy, I can honestly say that her writing seems to develop by leaps and bounds). I'm interested to see where Jemisin goes from here with this series - there seemed to be hints of a major conflict at the end of this one.


 

Wishlist Wednesday

Okay, so my first thought when I saw this was "WHAT?" which was then quickly followed by "SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!" Brace yourselves: Juniper Books has released Hogwarts house themed Harry Potter books. These will set you back a whopping $275 (that's in US dollars) per set. Each set comes in a Hogwarts travelling trunk (presumably for display purposes) and feature illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. The only thing holding me back is that these are only available in the American edition and having Philosopher's Stone titled Sorcerer's Stone would irritate the heck out of me (hey, you're looking at the girl who just bought a new set of The Hunger Games because her old set didn't match).

I am a Ravenclaw, so clearly this is the most important set
 Even though Gryffindor and Slytherin are arguably the two most popular/talked-about houses (fun fact: most of the house-themed Harry Potter merch sold on the Internet is for those two houses), I think Ravenclaw has a good chance of being the set that will sell out first (given the stereotypes of the personalities in this house).

Gryffindor, the prettiest of them all

 I actually like the Gryffindor design the best - check out that intricate design work! It looks stunning. It kind of reminds me of what I like to call 'old-timey' book designs - you know, the type of design they use for books in movies set in like the 1800s (even though book production was notoriously cheap in those days - usually paperbacks that were badly put together and fell apart pretty quickly).

Badger, badger, badger, badger...
According to Queen Rowling herself, the Age of Hufflepuff is upon us, so I guess embracing your inner badger is the in thing to do now. I've never gotten why Hufflepuff is the unpopular house - who wouldn't want to be characterised as just, kind and loyal? Why are these traits seen as less desirable than being intelligent or brave or ambitious? I'm sure when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is released, Hufflepuff will be the new in house (sorry Gryffindor and Slytherin - you've had almost two decades in the spotlight. Don't worry, Ravenclaw - our time will come).

How very Draco Malfoy of you
Compared to the other designs, the Slytherin design seems very... minimalist. While not my favourite, it works for the house.


While I'd probably have to start up a KickStarter to afford these, this is a reminder to go back and reread the Harry Potter series, because when they begin to fall apart (hello, copy of Goblet of Fire that has the spine falling off) there's my excuse to go buy these.  Aaah, who am I kidding? My worn out, much-loved copies of Harry Potter will always instill a sense of pride.



15 Sep 2015

#TTT: Top Ten Books or Series Written by Australian Authors

Today's #TTT was a freebie, so I decided to post about something I'm particularly passionate about: Australian authors! I think this is the first #TTT where I haven't listened ten books, but this is because I do auto-buy a few authors on this list (Jaclyn Moriarty and Melina Marchetta, for example) and didn't want to be adding the same author multiple times, nor did I want to add a book I only felt luke-warm about.

Colours of Madeleine trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty

Oh boy, oh boy. I love this series! It's brilliant and clever and breathtaking and beautiful and laugh-out-loud funny. It's whimsical and puzzling and intriguing. Moriarty is an expert at weaving all the plot threads together and builds them up into a huge climax that is a joy to read. A Corner of White was a slow build - you were kind of wondering where Moriarty was taking you. It set the tone for the books, it set up the plot - but not a lot happened (comparatively speaking). Cracks in the Kingdom just took off flying, and amped everything up. A Tangle of Gold isn't released until 29th March next year, but it's already my most anticipated release of 2016!

Free-Falling by Nicola Moriarty
This book is probably the odd one out on this list - it definitely is not YA. I see it categorised as chick lit a lot, but I don't feel that it is (although, if it is, it is chick lit at its best). This book is about grief and Moriarty manages to capture both Belinda and Evelyn's grief beautifully. It is a heart-breaking book of love, loss, and finding a way to put yourself back together. While Nicola is Jaclyn's younger sister, their writing styles are quite different (side note: I went to an event for the launch of this book, and met their mother - we actually discussed how different Nicola, Jaclyn and Liane's writing styles are), so if the quirkiness of Jaclyn's writing doesn't appeal to you, perhaps Nicola's will.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Okay, I lied: this is another book on the list that is most definitely not YA (and would most definitely be considered chick lit). I've read all of Moriarty's books, and I think Big Little Lies is her best. It is the most tightly-plotted, well-structured book Moriarty has written to date, and you can literally see her grow as an author between books (it's amazing, seriously). While this book has been voted "Most Likely to Be Shelved as Chick Lit" by the rest of the books on this list, Moriarty always deals with heavy issues in her books, and this is no different, dealing with issues such as domestic abuse and murder.

Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

My friends and I have a saying (that is based off of an Internet meme, like all good sayings are): "Read ALL THE MARCHETTA!"You don't just read the Marchetta for the tightly-plotted, well-written stories. You read the Marchetta because these books have heart and soul. I think what I like so much about Marchetta's writing is that she writes so well about family and sense of belonging. Her characters are complex and multi-layered, their relationships with one another dynamic. Whether it's because I grew up with her books - Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca were two of my favourite books in high school - or just because every page is breathtakingly spectacular, Marchetta's books resonate with and speak to me the way few books really do.

 Willow Tree and Olive by Irini Savvides

I picked up this book at some point during high school (admittedly because it came with a recommendation from Melina Marchetta) and it remains one of the most haunting, emotionally-charged books I have ever read. Seeing Olive break apart and then put herself together again is both heartbreaking and incredibly uplifting. Much like Marchetta's work, Savvides also deals with themes of identity and belonging.

The Messenger by Markus Zusak

I always see Zusak getting love for The Book Thief, which is one of my favourite books (he's giving a talk at the Sydney Jewish Museum next month, which I'm quite excited about!) - but I think The Messenger is up there in Aussie works, too. On a grander scale, it's about the importance of connections with others: how they are able to touch us and change our lives for the better.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Silvey kind of chucked all the rules of writing out the window in this book, and it worked. It is a brilliant novel, filled with tension and high stakes for the characters. An Australian To Kill a Mockingbird, Silvey captures small-town Australia perfectly, particularly the socio-political situation of the time. Given that the book is set in 1965, this isn't always particularly easy to read - this was a period where the effects of the White Australia Policy and the Stolen Generation were still being felt (and, in the case of the Stolen Generation, still being carried out) - Silvey does not shy away from displaying the prejudice and outright cruelty that Indigenous Australians and migrants were subjected to. This book is unflinchingly honest and incredibly real, and I love it all the more for it.

The King of Whatever by Kristen Murphy

This book is a fun, quick read - it's the kind of book you read when you're feeling down or when the weather's not that great and you just want to curl up in bed with a book. There's some great dialogue and funny one liners, and the characterisation is brilliant. Unfortunately this book is out of print, but if you can get your hands on a copy, I highly recommend it!

13 Sep 2015

Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan

Release Date: 1st May 2014
Publisher: Random House Australia
Page Count: 464
Format: Paperback | Borrowed

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Synopsis (from GR): When the Heron brother band become the Skandian duty ship to the Kingdom of Araluen, they're excited at the challenges ahead. Hal, Stig, Thorn and the Herons eagerly set sail for the trip - with an unexpected new crew member aboard. But an enemy from their past returns, throwing the Herons into a dangerous quest to free captured Araluens for the slave market in Socorro. Even with the help of an Araluen Ranger, the task may be too much.

My thoughts: John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series was as much a part of my childhood as Harry Potter, so I was a little disappointed that I wasn't liking Brotherband Chronicles as much - probably because I am well and truly out of the series' target demographic. Some of my criticisms of the early book include that it feels like Flanagan has taken the characters from Ranger's Apprentice and given them new names, the characters of Brotherband Chronicles lack the charm of the one from Ranger's Apprentice, and that the writing - even for a book aimed towards primary school children - feels formulaic. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was easily the best written (and most tightly plotted) of the series so far. Flanagan has managed to find the voice of each character and distinguish them from the characters of Ranger's Apprentice - I was no longer thinking of Hal as Skandian Will or Thorn as Skandian Halt. Naturally, this book isn't perfect - but it was nice to see some development. 

 The Herons have been assigned to watch duty in Araluen for eighteen months, as a part of the treaty between Araluen and Skandia. When they arrive, they learn that Tursgud - their nemesis from their training days - has raided a village and taken some Araluens captive, intending to sell them at a slave market in Socorro. With the help of Gilan, the Herons set out to free the slaves. I have to admit, my favourite part of this book was Gilan - I loved him in Ranger's Apprentice, so his appearance in this series was very welcome. Another favourite is Lydia - she's quick-witted and sharp-tongued, such a fun character to read. 

As this book is aimed towards young(er) children, the plot is rather simplistic and everything does seem to slide into place a little too easily - even when Hal's plans go wrong, I don't feel like the stakes are high enough. For example, Ingvar was taken by the slave master to be sold, and my reaction was "yeah, he'll be fine" - because I knew he would be rescued. There is also a lot of telling instead of showing, and the book is plagued with info dumps at times. There's a lot of technical detail put into this series, but I feel like it doesn't really add anything to the story - if anything, it pulls me out of it. While Flanagan's plot isn't all that grandiose, he is very good at writing dialogue (I believe he was a screenwriter before he became a children's author) and relationships between characters - Lydia and Thorn have one of my favourite relationships. 

Slaves of Socorro is a fun, quick read - it's entertaining and light, and younger readers will probably find this one really engaging.


8 Sep 2015

#TTT: Ten Finished Series that I Have Yet to Finish


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
 
It was really hard to narrow down my choices to ten series; I am the queen of not finishing series. I always get side-tracked and pick up more recently published books or just... other books, in general (which is why I used to try and mostly read stand-alone books).

The Lotus War by Jay Kristoff

 Endsinger has been sitting on my bookshelves for so long and I'm fairly certain that if a book had feelings, Endsinger would be feeling pretty darn neglected. I pre-order Endsinger and was fairly certain I would devour it within days of its publication - but here we are, nine months on, and I've passed on it in favour of all the other books I want to read (In my defence, 2015 has been a pretty stellar year for books). I will read you soon, Endsinger, I promise. 

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I read the first three books and thought they were entertaining enough, but then the series got stretched out to six books... I mean, the plot was fairly thin to begin with. There's only so far you can go, y'know? 

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

I mean, while we're talking about series written by Cassandra Clare... I read the first book, and felt like it was The Mortal Instruments all over again, just jumping on the steampunk bandwagon. A couple of friends of mine keep telling me that it's entirely different to TMI (possibly even better), so I might give it another go in the near future. Once I read the poor, neglected Endsinger

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The only reason I haven't finished this trilogy is because I'm waiting for my library to get it in. I promised myself I'd spend less money on books this year (my bank account is laughing because of that time a few weeks ago I spent $80 at QBD without even trying - I didn't have anyone there to stop me, oh well!), so I've been refraining from buying In the Afterlight - but I'm really eager to finish this trilogy. 

Legend by Maria Lu

I read the first book and remember liking it, but never managing to track down the next book. I've mostly forgotten what happened, so I suppose I'll have to reread the first book again before I'm able to finish this series. 

Dust Lands by Moira Young

I loved it - a YA dystopian that was actually a dystopian and not just written to cash in on The Hunger Games hype. I can't actually tell you why I haven't finished this series yet - I loved it, and was really excited about the publication of the final book. It's a really unique series, and fun to read (I recommend reading it, if you haven't already!).  

Tomorrow series by John Marsden

When I was in Year 8 or 9, I decided I was going to power my way through these books because everybody I knew seemed to love them.  For some reason I can't remember (because it was at least a decade ago), I stopped reading after Darkness, Be My Friend. I keep on telling myself, "I've got to finish that series," but I never do. I'm pretty sure I started reading the spin-off series, The Ellie Chronicles, even though I hadn't finished reading Tomorrow (clearly, I don't remember what happened).

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Apparently, it is a little known fact that Little Women is, in fact, a series comprised of four books - people generally only know about the first one (well, two - Little Women and Good Wives are usually published as one volume these days). I've never read Little Men or Jo's Boys, even though I've been meaning to for years now. 

Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery

Do you know how many books there are in the Pat of Silver Bush series? Two. Do you know how many times I have picked up Mistress Pat and had to put it back down again? Too many to count. Unfortunately, Pat is neither as charming as that Anne girl nor as compelling a heroine as Emily. She's like the Fanny Price of Montgomery's works. 

Wicca by Cate Tiernan

I loved this series when I was younger, but I never got around to finishing it. The last book was set something like twenty years after the rest of the series, and I just wasn't feeling it.

There you have it - ten finished series that I am yet to finish. Don't forget to comment below and link me to your #TTT so I can check out yours!









4 Sep 2015

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Release Date: 25th February 2010
Publisher:
Orbit
Page Count: 427
Format: Paperback | Borrowed

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Synopsis (from GR): Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

My thoughts: I'm a huge fan of Jemisin's Dreamblood duology, and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms had been on my to-read list for about a year; so when I noticed that my library had a copy I immediately picked it up. While not as polished as Dreamblood, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is still an enjoyable read. It stands out from most fantasy, if only because - as Jemisin herself has said - Jemisin has no interest in maintaining the status quo. Most fantasy is about restoring the rightful heir to the throne, maintaining order in or defeating a threat to the kingdom. Jeminsin turns that notion on its head, and writes fantasy about challenging those in power and questioning the order of society. 

I adore theological fantasy, and while the gods in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms were of Jemisin's own devising, I still quite liked this one. The characterisation in this novel is incredibly well done - Nahadoth is everything I ever wanted in a god. I also adored Sieh - who made me think of Loki (the god, not the comic book character) - and his relationship with Yeine. I think that this is what makes up The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Yeine's relationships with those around her. Not just the ones between her and the gods, but also with her grandfather and cousins, who have pulled her into a political war, and with her mother. Even though Yeine's mother has died, Yeine must come to terms with who her mother was and the choices that she had made.

Yeine is an interesting heroine - she is the leader of Darr, a warrior nation that is often characterised as being barbaric, although she doesn't read like a warrior queen, nor act like one. She often reacts the way a child would, and can be impulsive and rash. For a warrior, she also comes across as quite passive. One thing that I didn't like was the narration - there would occasionally be digressions scattered throughout Yeine's narration that give out backstory and little bits of history. While the reason for this was explained towards the end, it still frustrated me immensely. It was as if someone was speaking to you, and kept having to clarify things or pausing to add more information. I also found the romance awkwardly done - once Yeine and Nahadoth were together, it felt more like compulsion than attraction. They were obsessed with one another, and given the power disparity between Nahadoth, a god (an enslaved god, but a god none the less), and Yeine, a mortal... it just felt awkward to me. 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is quite a good read, although could've been executed a little bit better. Given the ending, I'm assuming that The Inheritance Trilogy will do what Dreamblood did, and focus on new characters in the next book and I'm all for that; I intensely dislike it when one story is stretched thinly across three books. 


1 Sep 2015

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Release Date: 7th February 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count:
441
Format: Paperback | Borrowed

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Synopsis (from GR): Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.

My thoughts: I went into Delirium with really high hopes, because it is a book that has been recommended to me by a number of people. Unfortunately, it sat oddly with me. The concept - a world devoid of love - is quite interesting, but it could've been executed a bit better. As a dystopian novel, it fails completely. As a YA romance, it works a bit better. It is obvious that this is the focus of the story - and the entire reason this dystopian world was created - was to tell a romance story. I for one would love it if YA writers would just write a romance novel rather than jumping on board the bandwagon for the latest YA trend. That said, I did enjoy Oliver twisting Christian mythos to explain the "love is a sickness" mentality. I wish I could've enjoyed this more, because Oliver is obviously a talented writer. 

One of the main reasons Delirium didn't work for me is because the world building was inconsistent. Lena lives in a highly autocratic world where love is so stigmatised that using words like 'sympathiser' can end badly for people. Phones are tapped and people are always watching - yet Lena uses the word 'love' without any consequences whatsoever. She doesn't even think twice about using it. Furthermore, she's wandering around and making out with Alex like it was no big deal, when it would land them both in prison. Furthermore, Lena is terrified of the deliria and is counting down the days to her procedure - for me, it just didn't make sense that she would become so reckless. This kind of leads into the next reason why I didn't enjoy Delirium that much - the characterisation was a bit hit-and-miss. Lena was really well done, and I really loved her as a character. However, this made Alex seem all the more one-dimensional and flat. Alex seemed to tick the box of the generic YA male love interest: sad back story? Check. Incredibly devoted to heroine? Check. Kind of stalker-ish? Check. I couldn't connect to him and despite his experiences, I couldn't empathise with him.

Finally, there was barely enough story to stretch 440-odd pages, so I'm not sure how it's going to make it a trilogy. I've checked Pandemonium out of the library, just to give this trilogy a chance - but it's safe to say, the concept is better than the execution.












#TTT: Top Ten Characters I Just Didn't Click With

1. Pat Gardiner (Pat of Silver Bush) - I think the reason I never clicked with Pat is because she just doesn't change. She literally wants everything to stay the same - she even cried when her father shaved off his beard! Having a character that doesn't have any character growth is incredibly frustrating, which is why I've (unsuccessfully) tried to read Mistress Pat about three times. After being given such beautiful characters in Anne and Emily, Pat is just really disappointing.
2. Sora (Last Leaves Falling) - I cannot tell whether it was the writing that made me disconnect with Sora, or just the character himself. To be honest, The Last Leaves Falling was a book that I should've loved but didn't, and I put that down to the disconnect I felt with the character.
3. Nathan (Half-Bad) - In all honesty, I had to disconnect with Nathan because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to stomach the things he goes through. The things that Nathan faces are brutal and horrifying, the fact that he experiences them from a young age makes it even more so.
4. Kelsea Raleigh (The Queen of the Tearling) - Kelsea is a hypocrite, unable to see the bigger picture, and an idiot. You do not want your main character to be all of these things.
5. Theodore Finch (All the Bright Places) - I learnt more about Finch through Violet after his suicide than I did spending time with him as a character, and that, for me, was incredibly frustrating. That said, I still felt sorry for Finch - everybody around him failed him.
6. Jane Hayes (Austenland) - do you know how hard it is to make me not connect to a character who is a Janeite? I was more invested in the film!Jane than I was in book!Jane, mostly because book!Jane was just one-dimensional and flat.
7. Cassie Aganovic (Finding Cassie Crazy) - Finding Cassie Crazy is one of my favourite novels, but I've never been able to click with Cassie. Even though Cassie's story has a higher emotional impact than Lydia or Emily's, I've always found it easier to connect with the latter two.
8. Severus Snape (Harry Potter) - After the final Harry Potter book was released, I was amazed at how many people changed their tune about Snape. I didn't find his love for Lily romantic - rather creepy, in fact. I also think it speaks volumes about his character that he is the worst fear of a thirteen year-old boy. Snape is a bully, and he is one character that I do not think will ever be redeemable.
9. Fanny Price (Mansfield Park) - My opinion of Fanny Price has improved since I first read the book, but I don't think she will ever be my favourite Austen heroine. She is quite timid and has strong opinions on morality and what is right/wrong, but as I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate that she behaves this way because she's lead to believe that she's inferior to the Bertrams and if she behaves inappropriately she'll lose the one thing she has of any worth - her sense of self-worth.
10. Amy (Say What You Will) - Amy was a Mary Sue with a walker, and a horrible person to boot.

Monthly Summary: August

August was a pretty quiet month for me - not a lot happened. It was actually a bit of a downer - the production of Noises Off was supposed to open on the 12th (it was cancelled because two of the leads walked out on the production five weeks before opening), so I was a bit down. On the plus side, I picked up a theatre project! I'm stage managing a production of Into the Woods, which opens at the end of September. There's one me and seventeen cast members - it's gonna be fun!

I read a total of four books this month: Delirium by Lauren Oliver, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, and Favourite Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson.

I've literally had Halsey's Badlands on repeat for the past three days. I love music where you really get a sense of who the artist is as a person, and Badlands is an album that does that. Also, there is not one skippable track on the album.

I was a fan of How I Met Your Mother since it first aired, but my watching of the final season was a little patchy, mostly because I had an inkling that the Mother died and I didn't want to get attached to her as a character only for that to happen. I marathoned all nine seasons of HIMYM and I was right: I did get attached to Tracy and I was devastated that she died. That finale was the worst - I would've much rathered fifteen years spread out across the entire season, rather than twenty minutes. Why spend an entire season building up to the wedding of a couple they were ultimately going to break up? As much as I love Barney and Robin as a couple, I really don't think they were a couple built to last - they were too similar and neither were willing to compromise. I would've loved to see each other changing for the better because of their relationship, buuuuut... that wasn't meant to be. I really felt cheated that such a big deal was made about Ted and Robin not being right for each other, and Ted having to let her go, only for Ted and Robin to end up together. Don't get me wrong, Ted deserved to find love again after Tracy's death (although alternatively we could've had Ted and Tracy having a happily ever after) and I think I could've dealt with Ted finding love again with anyone else but Robin, because ultimately HIMYM was the story of Ted, not Ted and Tracy. Given how big an emphasis was put on Robin not really being in their lives later on, it was hard for me to believe that Robin was around enough for Ted's kids to call her 'Aunt Robin' and have them okay with Ted and Robin dating.


I've just started watching That 70's Show. It was never something that I was super into when it first aired, but I'm really enjoying it so far! It's intelligent comedy - I'm really loving the character of Hyde!
What Ginny Weasley & Anne of Green Gables Taught Me About Feminism
Is YA Becoming More Diverse?

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