Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Double Review: Amy Snow & Florence Grace by Tracy Rees :: perfect examples of lovely historical fiction


25629991
Publisher: Hachette
Release Date: August 9th 2016
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Paperplus
Read it in: 
Word Rating: TRANQUIL
Left to perish on a bank of snow as a baby, Amy has never known love, never known family.

Reluctantly given shelter at nearby Hatville Court, she is despised by the masters and servants alike.

The beautiful Hatville heiress, Aurelia Vennaway, is Amy's only advocate - she becomes the light of Amy's life, and the centre of her existence.

So when Aurelia dies young, Amy's world collapses. But Aurelia leaves Amy with one last gift.

A bundle of letters with a coded key. A treasure hunt that only Amy can unlock. A life-changing secret awaits... if only she can reach it.
 REVIEW

The whole time I was reading AMY SNOW I felt like I was wrapped up in a warm snuggly blanket.This made me reluctant to finish AMY SNOW at a fast pace and so I read it slowly, but wow, was it worth taking my time and making the most of it.
 
The writing style was my favourite thing about AMY SNOW, something I wasn't actually expecting. The writing style in here feels quite old fashioned even for a work of historical fiction, but the whole time I was reading, I felt like I was reading a well loved classic written a hundred or so years ago. I loved this aspect, but I know for other readers might not enjoy it so much.

There is a love triangle in AMY SNOW, but strangely, I didn't actually mind it. I wouldn't go as far to say I loved it or that it was needed, but because (to me) it was obvious from the very beginning who had Amy's heart and who didn't, the love triangle didn't bother me.

::Thank you HACHETTE NZ for the review copy!::


31206120

Publisher: Hachette
Release Date: July 30th 2016
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Paperplus
Read it in: 
Word Rating: SLOW
Florrie Buckley is an orphan, living on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. It's a hard existence but Florrie is content; she runs wild in the mysterious landscape. She thinks her destiny is set in stone

But when Florrie is fourteen, she inherits a never-imagined secret. She is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Overnight, Florrie's life changes and she moves from country to city, from poverty to wealth.

Cut off from everyone she has ever known, Florrie struggles to learn the rules of this strange new world. And then she must try to fathom her destructive pull towards the enigmatic and troubled Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own.

REVIEW

Sadly, I didn't enjoy FLORENCE GRACE as much as AMY SNOW. FLORENCE GRACE wasn't terrible by any means but it felt a little dull and lacked the sparkle that AMY SNOW was so full off.

My biggest problems with FLORENCE GRACE was with the length and pacing of it. Both AMY SNOW and FLORENCE GRACE are big books, but I felt AMY SNOW definitely handled it better than FLORENCE GRACE did There were multiple times where I thought stuff could've been cut out of FLORENCE GRACE and by the end I was feeling like I was having to almost slog through the book.

I also felt that if the pacing had been just a bit more fast-paced, the length of FLORENCE GRACE wouldn't have bothered me as much or at all. But because this book is quite slow -which I'm sure will not bother some people but it did bother me a bit - the lack of anything happening, especially towards the end, irritated me.

I did love Florrie's voice though. I was worried at first that she might sound too similar to Amy in AMY SNOW, but both their voices are vastly different which I really enjoyed. I also enjoyed the cast of characters portrayed in here slightly more than the cast in AMY SNOW. I liked that you saw good parts to the bad characters and bad parts of the good ones.

::Thank you HACHETTE NZ for the review copy!::



HAVE YOU READ ANYTHING BY TRACY REES?

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Peggy and Me, Elizabeth and Zenobia & The Book That Made Me :: say those titles ten times fast!


 

33215771


Publisher: Hachette NZ
Release Date: 11th October 2016
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Paper Plus
Read it in: 4 hours
Word Rating: HEARTWARMING


The hilarious and heartwarming memoir of Miranda and her life changing dog, the inimitable and most lovable Peggy. 

Hello dear book browser and welcome to Peggy and Me. The story of my life since getting a beautiful Shih-Tzu Bichon Frise cross puppy (I call the breed a Shitty Frise - fun) in the form of Peggy. Some of you may be thinking: "a book about a dog, how totally brilliant, I need hear no more, I'm sold." In which case we should be best friends and go out to tea together, every day. 

Others of you may be thinking: "a book about a dog, how totally mad, she must have officially lost it." In which case I completely understand. For I once viewed dog owners with much suspicion. The way they obsessively talk about their dogs often using voices for them to reply; the way they have a light covering of dog hair all over their clothes and sofas; and worse, an alarming comfort and ease around excrement. But I now get why people become so mad about their hounds. It wasn't instant love I have to admit. 

Getting a puppy when I was at a low ebb in my life wasn't easy - there was a lot of challenging, what I call, dog administration (dog-min), and the humiliating first trip to the vet still haunts me. It's been a bumpy old road, but Peggy has been lovingly by my side through some life changing moments and I wouldn't have coped without her.

AT LAST. Here is not only a book about how fantastic dogs are (a fact known by all dog people but something cat people seem to not understand for reasons I will NEVER understand) but another brilliantly book written by my favourite female comedian and actress of all time, Miranda Hart!

What I really love about Miranda Hart is that not only is her screen comedy hilarious, her book writing is absolutely FULL to bursting with humour as well. PEGGY AND ME also felt quite unique in that there were chapters written from "Peggy's POV", that made the memoir stand out and definitely made for a more amusing read. I did think at times that I didn't need quite AS much of "Peggy's POV" as there was (I wanted more Miranda!), but I still liked it.

Overall, a book full of humorous and jolly (Miranda is rubbing off on me), stories of Miranda and Peggy that left me smiling long after I'd finished it. Be you a dog lover, an unconvinced cat adorer, or just a person looking for a laugh, look no further! This book is for you.


::Thank you HACHETTE NZ for the review copy!::



28052700


Publisher: Text Publishing AU
Release Date: 29th August 2016
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Paper Plus
Read it in: 2 hours
Word Rating: DELIGHTFUL


When Elizabeth and her unusual and fearless friend Zenobia arrive at Witheringe House, peculiar things begin to happen.

Especially in the forbidden East Wing.

The flowers and vines of the wallpaper sometimes seem to be alive.

A mirror has a surface like the water of a pond.

And an old book tells a different story after midnight.

Zenobia is thrilled by the strangeness, but Elizabeth is not so bold...

Until she makes a mysterious and terrifying discovery.

ELIZABETH and ZENOBIA is basically a tiny little Middlegrade novel stuffed full to the brim with everything exciting and magical that you can think of. It has one of the most glorious book covers I've ever set eyes on, and which also perfectly suits the story inside.

It's an enchanting mix of fairytale and history that Jessica Miller weaves together very cleverly. Miller writes with an elegant and sweet writing style, that I think no matter your age, you'll enjoy her writing in here. I felt like I was in the middle of a sparkling fairytale while reading it and I LOVED that.

I really enjoyed this lovely little book, but I did feel like I wasn't quite the age group that the book was suited for. It's cute, it's magical and it's utterly delightful, but I did feel like I missed something that kids similar ages to my ten-year-old sister (who I've already pushed this book on!) will get a lot more out of it then I did.

::Thank you TEXT PUBLISHING AU for the review copy!::



30129798
Publisher: Walker Books AU
Release Date: 1st September 2016
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Paper Plus
Read it in: 2 1/2 hours
Word Rating: EMOTIVE


A book for book lovers!


The Book That Made Me is a celebration of the books that influenced some of the most acclaimed authors from Australia and the world. Inspirational. Affecting.

A perfect collection of personal stories for book lovers!

Personal stories by fantastic authors such as Markus Zusak, Jaclyn Moriarty, Shaun Tan, Mal Peet, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Simon French, Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell, Bernard Beckett, Ursula Dubosarsky, Rachael Craw, Sue Lawson, Felicity Castagna, Benjamin Law, Cath Crowley, Kate Constable, James Roy, Alison Croggon, Will Kostakis and Randa Abdel-Fattah. Also features black and white cartoons by Shaun Tan!

All royalties from the sale of the book will go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. The book will also include the ILF logo and information about the organisation.


THE BOOK THAT MADE ME could not be more perfectly described then as a, "book for booklovers". This book has gone down as my favourite non-fiction novel of 2016 and

I loved just how personal all these author's stories were but even more so, how different they were from each other. No one story was the same and reading about each author's separate experiences with books and reading kept me glued to the page the whole time I was reading.

I also really enjoyed the the different formats that the authors played around with with their stories. Some wrote more essay style stories, one author wrote a list, another a poem, others just scraps or excerpts from personal memories when they were children and what made them love the written word.

All in all, I adored this book, from the first page to the last. I really recommend you find yourself a copy because it is not a book to be missed!


::Thank you WALKER BOOKS AU for the review copy!::


HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS?? TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye :: like delicous and super magical CAKE




26156203Publisher: Harper Collins NZ
Release Date: 1st May 2016/7
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Paper Plus
Read it in: 5 hours
Word Rating: DELIGHTFUL


Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.


REVIEW

“Imagine, and it shall be.
There are no limits.⁠⁠⁠⁠”


The first word that comes to mind when I think of THE CROWN'S GAME, is delightful. Even though the premise of this book is actually quite solemn - two young sorcerers have to use their magic against each other in a game to the death - but it's written with such a light and vivid writing style that you feel like you're living and breathing in the story itself and that feeling is utterly delightful.

Evelyn Skye's writing style was my favourite part of the book. This could've been a very typical YA fantasy, but the way she writes is just so magical that suddenly, in her hands, this book becomes something else entirely. At times, I definitely didn't think every. single. thing needed to be described in such avid detail, but overall, I know I wouldn't have enjoyed this book as much if all the beautiful descriptions and lovely writing had been left out.



I really loved how while THE CROWN'S GAME is definitely fantasy, I adored it's Russian historical setting. You can tell that Skye loves Russia (and she says so in her acknowledgements) and the fondness she holds for it comes out in the Russian historical setting that she has portrayed in here. I felt like I really knew the world that Skye was describing and that I wasn't just getting mere glimpses of it.
 
I could've done without the love triangle as I didn't think it added anything to the story, but I appreciated the relationships that the three main characters, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha had with each other. I loved Pasha and Nikolai's strong friendship and although I didn't ship Pasha with Vika at all as I just personally didn't feel like there was anything between them, I did love Vika and Nikolai's blossoming romance!



THE CROWN'S GAME is literally the bookish equivalent of a rich and magical cake. Yes, I had problems with it, but it's pros out weigh it's cons by the hundred. I can't wait to dive back into the delicious story and world that Everlyn Skye has created when the sequel is released next year!


::Thank you HARPER COLLINS NZ  for the review copy!::

HAVE YOU READ THE CROWN'S GAME?? AND CAN I JUST SAY HOW IN LOVE I AM WITH EVELYN SKYE'S NAME?! (NO ONE WITH A NAME LIKE THAT IS NOT DESTINED FOR GREATNESS, JUST SAYIN'.) HAVE YOU READ ANY BOOKS SET IN A RUSSIAN SETTING??

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven & The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon :: the curious and confusing mini review edition



29847082 Publisher: Penguin NZ
Release Date: October 4th 2016
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Book Depository / Amazon
Read it in: 3 hours
Word Rating: CURIOUS.
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed 'America's Fattest Teen'. But no one's taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum's death, she's been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby's ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he's got swagger, but he's also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can't recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He's the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can't understand what's going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don't get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world - theirs and yours.

~LIKES~

I'm really pleased that I gave Jennifer Niven's books another chance. Having DNFed Jennifer Niven's first book, ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES last year, I was really nervous going into HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE. I'm so glad I did because for the most part, I really liked it.

DIVERSITY. I thought Jennifer Niven wrote it really well, and it made what could've been an average YA contemporary into something that really raised awareness of things that need more awareness around them.

I found Libby a super refreshing main character! The difficulties that she's had to get through and her determination to have the best life she can possibly have and to follow every one of her dreams regardless of the fact that some people will be horrible to her was extremely inspiring.




~DISLIKES~

I definitely wasn't a big fan of Jack. A lot of reviews of HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE I've read have seen people loving Jack but not Libby. I was the complete opposite. I adored Libby but couldn't stand Jack.

THAT ENDING! People, you know by now that I like my book endings tied up in a rational way and not thrown to the wind and remain a mystery. I got to the last page in HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE without realizing it was the last page and upon realizing it, felt like throwing the book across the room.




::Thank you PENGUIN NZ for the review copy!::



28763485
Publisher: Penguin NZ
Release Date: October 31st 2016
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Book Depository / Amazon
Read it in: 21/2 hours
Word Rating: CONFUSING.

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?


~LIKES~

The writing is beautiful! Nicola Yoon has magic writing blood I think, because regardless if you enjoy her books or not, you have to admit her writing sparkles.

I LOVED the diversity. It was really refreshing to actually read a book and be able to say that it was chockfull of diversity. I think YA fiction is getting better in providing more diversity in their books but it's definitely still not enough. The fact that this is also set in America and American YA books are normally (not always but normally) EXTREMELY white with little to no diversity at all made THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR really stand out in a good way.

It's a really quick read! I whizzed through this in just a couple of hours and it honestly felt like no time had passed at all.



~DISLIKES~

I found it really insta-lovey. However, I think you can see the romance from two different ways. If you are a person that believes in fate, and that if certain things happen at certain times in certain circumstances and you consider that that must've been fate, not a coincidence or good/bad luck, you will enjoy this book. Because I would like to believe that everything that happens is fate and was meant to happen, ultimately I don't, I really struggled with the romance in here.

Yes, the writing is beautiful, but I think you can appreciate that someone's writing is beautiful and still not enjoy it. I liked the writing in here, but by the end of the book I'd definitely had enough of it's floaty dreamy style that just didn't 100% click with me.

I actually would've given THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR a 3-star rating if not for the incredibly rushed and (in my eyes) unbelievable ending. Again, if you're a big believer in fate, and things like that, you will probably enjoy the aspect of the ending, but for myself it didn't work.

Even though I myself didn't love THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, I know a lot of people that did and I know a lot of people will! I actually personally don't think there's anything bad about this book, it just comes down to the fact that it didn't suit my personal reading tastes.


::Thank you PENGUIN NZ for the review copy!::
Actual rating 2.5 stars!


HAVE YOU READ EITHER OF THESE TWO BOOKS?? OF THE TWO WHICH WAS YOUR FAVOURITE?? AND ALSO: WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVOURITE COVER?? (MINE'S THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR!!)

Saturday, 19 November 2016

My Favourite Things About NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff


 29845906
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: August 11th 2016
Source: From the Publisher!
Purchase: Mighty Ape / Book Depository / Amazon
Read it in: 9 hours
Word Rating: BEAUTIFUL & ENCHANTING
Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

I have been struggling over writing this review for MONTHS. Absolute months, I tell you! Nothing I've tried to write so far seems to have properly show just HOW MUCH I am in love with this wondrous book. I feel SPEECHLESS when I think of this book. The emotions that I feel whenever I think about it don't have enough words in the English language to properly explain how I feel. I've finally decided to just write a list of MY FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT NEVERNIGHT and explain to you munchkins WHY they are my FAVOURITE THINGS.


I: MIA & MISTER KINDLY

“The last thing you will ever be, girl, is someone's hero.”

Mia is the living embodiment of adorable viciousness. Full of fire, yet so icy cold, I couldn't get over how well Jay created Mia's character: an incredibly cold assassin who is unfussed by the foulest and gruesome deeds and murders, but also, at the end of the day, human with an incredibly fiery, and emotional spirit. If you loved Lada from AND I DARKEN, then you will love Mia even more.

Then there's Mister Kindly...and well... BE STILL MY BEATING HEART. I hate all cats, fictionally or otherwise, but oh my goodness, how I loved Mister Kindly. He provided not only wonderful comic relief but the friendship he and Mia had between them, as well as the emotional support he was always there to give her when she needed it, was beyond lovely.



II: THE OTHER CHARACTERS


“Mia stayed where she was, distrust plain in her eyes.I've got tea, Mercurio sighed. And cake.” 
The girl covered her growling belly with both palms.. . . What kind of cake?
The free kind.

The rich cast of characters in NEVERNIGHT is so astonishing. I loved how every single character had their own rich personality and backstory and they never, EVER felt similar to each other or boring or not...real. Each of the characters in here just felt so real, that it was odd to finish the book and remember that the people in here weren't real but actually made-up.
 

III: THE GORGEOUS WRITING

“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You're a daughter of the words. A girl with a story to tell.”

I'm fully aware that there are two opinions when it comes to Jay's writing in NEVERNIGHT: You either loved it, or you hated it. Of all the reviews I've read on NEVERNIGHT, every opinion on the writing has been one of the two.

I was worried that I would be one of the latter, but instead I found Jay's writing so gorgeous it made me want to cry in places. Plus, there's also the fact that when I wasn't feeling like bursting into tears over how beautiful I found the writing, I was green to the tips of my toes with envy because I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO WRITE LIKE THAT. Sobbbbb.



IV: THE HUMOUR

 “Though she knew she should probably be frightened at the sight, instead Mia took a deep breath, combed her fingers through her air, and stepped out of the alley, right into a slop pile of what she hoped was mud.*
______
* It was not mud. Alas.”

I laughed so much while I read NEVERNIGHT. I think without the humour, the book would have been very heavy and definitely not the same. But NEVERNIGHT overflows with wit and sly sarcasm that had me giggling often and I still smile when I think about my favourite humourous parts.





V: THE MAGIC AND TRICKERY

“You'll be a rumor. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the nevernight.”

NEVERNIGHT was shouted for months in advance as a 'DARK HOGWARTS,' and I cannot tell you how skeptic I was about that. NOTHING, could ever become close to creating something even close to what Hogwarts holds, I thought, and while I was still dreadfully excited for the book, I was fully prepared to be let down. HOWEVER LET DOWN I WAS NOT.

It was probably almost my favourite part of the whole book, just how magical the world and settings were in NEVERNIGHT. And the mischief!! Considering that a lot of the characters in here were fighting to be the top assassin, the book definitely wasn't as serious as you'd think it'd be.




VI: THE STORY ITSELF

 “When all is blood, blood is all.”

I can safely say hand on heart that I have NEVER read a fantasy book like this before, OR found it similar at all to any fantasy books I've (ever?) read. I think the fact that NEVERNIGHT dances gracefully across a fine line between being an upper YA book to an adult book makes it extremely approachable for quite a wide audience.

Dark and merciless, NEVERNIGHT is edged with gore and wit and filled with a fantastical, INCREDIBLE story that is a monster within itself. It is, overall, an absolute MIRACLE of a book. It's easily the best book I've read in 2016, but also one of the best books I've read in MY LIFE.


:: Thank you HARPER COLLINS NZ for the review copy!!::
 
TELLLLLL MEEE: HAVE YOU READ NEVERNIGHT?! PLEASE TELL ME YOU HAVE! I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW IF YOU LOVED IT OR HATED IT AND WHYYYYY. 
ALSO! WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK THAT GAVE YOU A MASSIVE BOOK HANGOVER??
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