Monday, 28 September 2015

Being Magdalene by Fleur Beale :: where everything is SKOOKUM


25959337Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 28th August 2015
Source: From the publisher
Purchase: Mighty Ape | Amazon
Read it in: 2 1/2 hours
Word Rating: SKOOKUM

The gripping sequel to the award-winning and bestselling YA novels I Am Not Esther and I am Rebecca.

Being Magdalene revisits the Pilgrim family and its closed religious community, The Children of the Faith.

Four years have passed since Rebecca ran away. The community simmers with tension and rumours of an approaching split, and life has become terrifying for Rebecca's remaining siblings as Elder Stephen seizes any chance to take revenge on them. Twelve-year-old Magdalene lives in fear that her strong-willed little sister, Zillah, will be his next target.

The girls have run out of people who can protect them. To Zillah their path is clear but Magdalene is torn. How can she cause more hurt and shame for her parents? But, equally, how can she face a life with no freedom to be herself?

And another question scares her most of all. Without the elders' suffocating rules that tell her how to live, who would Magdalene be?



REVIEW

I was trying to think up ONE word to completely describe BEING MAGDALENE and after a little Google searching (oh how I love Google!) I came across the perfect word: SKOOKUM.

By Google's definition, Skookum means, "as an adjective (of a person or animal) strong, brave, or impressive." And guys? This sums up BEING MADALENE perfectly.

As the third in the I Am Not Esther series (and I think the last book?) it delivers just as big as punch as the last two books, I Am Not Esther and I Am Rebecca have. Each story, although woven into each other intricately, is able to easily stand by itself and make you think, "Oh! This is as good as the last book! This is different but familiar and I LOVE it!"

This is a cult book. As cult books go, I found The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly more impressive but this still very much delivers on expectation. It also hit a bit closer to home then Minnow Bly did because we actually have a cult here in NZ that is EXTREMELY similar to the one written about in here.

As a series, I really recommend it. My favourite is probably the first book but they're ALL so good it's hard to say! PLUS Fleur Beale is a NZ author and this book is set in NZ! I read so much American and UK and Australian fiction that I forgot how nice it is to read a book set in NZ and RELATE to it because I live here! So I'm channelling my kiwi spirit when I demand you all go find a copy of this book, or the other books in the series NOW!

::Thank you Random House NZ for the review copy!::



Read anything by a NZ author?! Also what's a good cult book you can recommend to me??

Monday, 21 September 2015

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn :: brilliant piled on brilliance with a side of brill sprinkled on top

23160039Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: 1st September 2015
Source: From the publisher via EW
Purchase: Mighty Ape | Book Depository | Amazon
Read it in: 3 hours
Word Rating: BABOOM!

In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.


London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

REVIEW


Starting this, I was worried. I requested this blind on Edelweiss just because the cover tempted me and only afterwards discovered that it was adult which is fine, just adult fiction is never really my glass of juice so to speak. I shouldn't have worried though, this book is AMAZING. Absolute. Pure. Brilliance. I was sucked in from page one and couldn't stop reading until I finished it!

The story follows Veronica a young women in her early twenties who also happens to be a Lepidopterist (butterfly collector for the people that had no idea like me. Also please don't ask me to pronounce it; I HAVE NO IDEA). After the death of her spinster aunt, Veronica finds her life in danger and with the help of an elderly Baron, she escapes to London where she finds herself in the difficult and surly company of the Baron's young friend, Stoker. Stoker, a young man who dislikes Veronica and most other humans, grudgingly agrees to letting Veronica stay with him for a few days while the Baron tries to sort out the whole yucky murder business. Veronica, not one to sit about doing nothing, helps Stoker (who is a taxidermist) with his taxidermy and everything is going almost happily when...OH NO! The Elderly Baron has been murdered! Veronica and Stoker must now figure out why the Baron was murdered and what it has to do with Veronica. This involves lots of adventures, my favourite being joining the circus! THE CIRCUS GUYS. Someone hold me!

Probably the highlight of A Curious Beginning is Veronica. She's snarky, she's intelligent and she won't take crap from everyone. She stands on her two feet with ease and has no problem standing up for herself and for what she believes, but she also has the compassion to give a damn about other people and to think about others beside herself. Veronica wasn't dramatic, didn't try to blow a problem out of proportion by having a tantrum because she didn't get her own way. Veronica examined the problems and decided what could be the best possible outcome for everyone involved before proceeding calmly with a plan. She didn't run off without telling people what she was doing, she included them, she listened not only to herself but to others and I really appreciated that!

 Stoker and Veronica's relationship was also extremely wheemly wonderful. They keep their relationship strictly platonic which I loved as it was a breath of fresh air but it also frustrated me SO MUCH because they had so much chemistry together and they brought out each other so well! PLUS, they kinda had feelings for each other but it wasn't explored which drove me insane so I'm really hoping that book two explores their relationship BECAUSE OMG THEY WERE SO ADORABLE TOGETHER ASDFGHJKL. *flails and explodes*

http://38.media.tumblr.com/f97bc3497f60f9d29a323398e9053210/tumblr_ntf33jL5lO1rd19fwo2_500.gif

A CURIOUS BEGINNING not only holds everything that makes a perfect historical novel but also everything that makes a perfect book. We have a fabulous story in which to solve the murder Stoker and Veronica must scramble around the country, having adventures and getting into lots of mischief, but we also have a superb plot with a lively cast of characters stirred into the pot as well.

Originally I was going to give this 4.5 stars but ever since I finished it a few months back I keep coming back to it and rereading my favourite parts. And for that, I'm giving it the 5-stars because this book is utterly perfect in every way and I DESPERATELY need the second book!



::Thank you to the Publisher for the review copy via Edelweiss!::
What was the last 5-star book you read?!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas :: *panics like an octopus* MAAS WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME?

23848145Publisher: Bloomsbury
and Allen & Unwin
Release Date: 1st September 2015
Source: From the publisher
Purchase: Mighty Ape | Book Depository | Amazon
Read it in: 7-8 hours
Word Rating: EMERGERDIDON'TEVENKNOW


The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series contrinues Celaena's epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.



REVIEW

**Pssst, so I have tried very hard to be spoiler free in my review but there might be minor spoilers for the other books in the series, ok??!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!**


So basically my brain feels like a big snarly ball of wool that the cat has spent the day terrorizing. I am feeling soooooo many emotions right now!! On one hand this was a fantastic and mindblowing book....but on another GIANT hand this book had so many problems I could fall through the craters and easily never be seen again! I AM IN SUCH A DILEMMA. SOMEONE HELP ME!

Basically I think my biggest problem was that I was expecting things to happen and when they didn't happen or they happened in a way I wasn't expecting it, it REALLY bugged me and also disappointed me. And I think after loving Heir of Fire so much I was maybe expecting a little too much from Queen of Shadows? So when it turned out not as good as Heir of Fire (or the two books before it, if I'm being honest) I was disappointed. And disappointment is never a nice reaction to your number one most anticipated book of the year is it?!

So I'm going to group this review into parts because otherwise my brain is just going to literally EXPLODE. You've been warned!


CHARACTERS?!

+ AELIN. Celaena now goes by Aelin AND I JUST FOUND THAT VERY ANNOYING OKAY??!!!. Girl, YOUR NAME IS CELAENA NOT AELIN. DEAL WITH IT. *eye twitches* Aelin acts like a completely different person from old Celaena with unfortunate sides of spitefulness, bitchiness and pettiness. Yeah...I didn't like Aelin/Celaena in this book... Aelin is also extremely horrible to Chaol and I was pretty much like, WHHUUUUUT??!! GIRL YOU WERE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS GUY. YOU TOLD HIM YOU LOVED HIM AT THE END OF CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THAT ALREADY???!!

 https://uproxx.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/just-be-wrong-just-stand-there-in-your-wrongness-and-be-wrong-and-get-used-to-it.gif?w=650

+ CHAOL. I feel sorry for poor Chaol I do! Some horrid things happen to him, not including Aelin treating him like absolute crap which is SO SAD. Also, do you remember how during alllllllllll of Heir of Fire, Chaol was acting like a love sick idiot over Celaena??!! Like every chapter including him, involved him thinking about her and thinking about how much he loved her...um, well in Queen of Shadows that disappeared on about page one and not only did it not make sense it made me angry!! SO. ANGRY!!

+ DORIAN. OMG DORIAN MA POOR BABY. *hugs him tightly* Stuff happens to my little pooky baby in here AND IT BROKE MY HEART. *hugs Dorian tighter* NEVER LETTING HIM GO AGAIN NEVERRR.

+ MANON. OH MANON HOW I LOVE THEE! I don't get for the life of me, WHY people don't seem to like Manon!? She's now my favourite character and if it wasn't for her chapters, Queen of Shadows would've definitely been 3-stars. I really love how Manon's character has developed and also let's not forget ABRAXOS! We didn't see as much of him as I would've liked but still: ABRAXOS!! (He still likes smelling flowers if you're wondering!) Manon is definitely waaaaay more human then she was in Heir of Fire and I really liked that.

 https://d.gr-assets.com/hostedimages/1392157560ra/8509919.gif

+ ELIDE. Elide is a new character introduced in Queen of Shadows and I really enjoyed her chapters, but, yet again, I don't understand why people didn't like her very much?!

+ AEDION. Um, this is just me, but I really don't care about Aedion? PLUS, not to mention the fact that I kept getting mixing up Aedion's name with Aelin's. THAT REALLY ANNOYED ME IF YOU CAN'T TELL.

+ ROWAN. Oh, Rowan! Rowan, Rowan, ROWAN! Still hate you, man! Please go away and die a nasty death because I really hate your guts.

+ LYSANDRA. EEEEeeee LYSANDRA!! Lysandra is AWESOME, people! Also, something brilliant comes out about her and it is GLORIOUS. To. Much. Awesome.

+ OTHER CHARACTERS. Other characters like Manon's witchy team and Nesryn and other-people-I-can't think-of right now-but-will-remember-later-when my-brain-isn't-tired were awesome!



OTHER STUFF?!

We need to talk about the length!! HOLEY CRAP THIS BOOK IS MASSIVE. And it's not just that the book is massive, it's that the font is tiny as an ant, which means the Publishers had to shrink the font down as much as possible otherwise literally the book would've been 1000 pages easily and then there would be lots of mysterious bookworm deaths happening AND WE ALL KNOW WHO'S FAULT THEY'D BE. But *ahem* murdering bookworms aside, this was too long and I thought 100 pages could've been hacked off easily and would've added to the story not taken away.

Queen of Shadows didn't hook me like Heir of Fire did. The first 300 pages especially were very slooooow and I found myself putting it down a lot which was something I couldn't even think of doing while reading Heir of Fire! The last 300 pages were absolutely amazing though and where the action really warmed up, I just wished it had happened a bit sooner in the book.

Alsoalsoalso, I have a grumbling that isn't really to do with the book and I just want to get out out there: Heaps of people have been saying that if you loved Heir of Fire you'll love Queen of Shadows/love the way Queen of Shadows goes BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE!! At least, for me. So I'm just warning you: if you loved Heir of Fire you might love this...but you also might not. And either way, that's okay!

SHIPS?! 
(SPOILERS!!!!!! DON'T UNCOVER TO READ UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SPOILED OR HAVE ALREADY READ THE BOOK!!!!!) 
This is the part where I start to feel REALLY pissy and want to punch something. You see: MY SHIP SANK. And for all the signs, for all the people wailing it was going to happen, I was so convinced that it wouldn't that when it did, it near broke me. What was almost worse besides Aelin just casually dumping Chaol and saying she didn't mean it when she said she loved him in CoF, was THE FACT THAT SHE THEN WENT AND DECIDED SHE REALLY, ACTUALLY, TRULY THIS TIME - HONESTLY! - LOVED ROWAN. Rowan the 300-something-year-old fae male. And of course...Rowan's suddenly decided that he *FEELS* something fro Aelin, and not the *FEELS* like in HoF where he didn't like Aelin for some reason had no problem mentally and physically abusing her but the "OMG I THINK I LUURRRRVE AELIN!!!" Please, someone, anyone, KILL ME. I can't stand this misery anymore!! I just cannot ship a relationship like that, especially with that age difference. Just...NO.

So I'm really pissed at my ship sinking but also the fact that Celaena/Aelin has moved onto yet ANOTHER guy. First it was Dorian, then she decided she really actually loved Chaol and he was her soul mate blah blah and and all that jazz, which was wonderful because Chaolaena is MY ship of ships but now she's moved onto ROWAN, a guy who I thought TO ME, Maas spent all of Heir of Fire trying to show that it was only going to be a platonic relationship but then in Queen of Shadows, BOOM! Rowan and Aelin are in love and I'm just sitting here going, "WTF IS GOING ON HERE? SOMEONE ANYONE HALP."


l

I also didn't like how Maas kind of paired just about everyone up, like Dorian with Manon (which, ok, could be awesome and I'm really interested to see where that goes but still, I can't really see it working out because it's MANON and I'm still in mourning for poor Sorscha), Lysandra and Aedion weren't a thing exactly, but it was kind of hinted that it could/might become a thing, and I'm not sure how I feel about that, but the ship I REALLY didn't like, was Chaol and Nesryn. I like Nesryn as a new character and think she's cool...but I don't see any chemistry between her and Chaol and think their ship feels really forced. I might be a little jaded, just because I ship Chaolaena and will forever, but STILL. Not happy.

 ALL IN ALL?!

Basically, Queen of Shadows didn't go the way I was expecting it, in good ways and bad ways. It's definitely not my favourite of the series (*lovingly pets Heir of Fire*) and it had SOOOOOOO many problems/things wrong with it/too much Rowan for my delicate system/ahem who said that BUTBUTBUT at the same time it was amazing and fantastic and OMGJUSTGIVEMEMOREALREADY!! I can't believe we have to wait till NEXT SEPTEMBER before book five comes out!! *curls up in ball and dies*




::Thank you times a thousand Allen & Unwin for the review copy!!!!!::




YOUR TURN! I want to know what YOU thought of Queen of Shadows if you've read it!! What did you love (Abraxos obvs)??!! What did you hate (*cough* ROWAN OBVS...)??!! Did you think it was too long?! Were you convinced like me that they shrunk the font to avoid mysterious bookworm deaths?! TELL ALLLL my little wonderlings, I wanna hear everything!!

Monday, 14 September 2015

The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland :: profound, poetic and freaking hilarious

26103957
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 1st September 2015
Source: From the publisher
Purchase: Mighty Ape | Book Depository | Amazon
Read it in: 3 hours
Word Rating: WONDERFUL
Rosie Waterland has never been cool. Growing up in a housing commission, Rosie was cursed with a near-perfect, beautiful older sister who dressed like Mariah Carey on a Best & Less budget while Rosie was still struggling with various toilet mishaps. She soon realised that she was the Doug Pitt to her sister's Brad, and that cool was not going to be her currency in this life.

But that was only one of the problems Rosie faced. With two addicts for parents, she grew up amidst rehab stays, AA meetings, overdoses, narrow escapes from drug dealers and a merry-go-round of dodgy boyfriends in her mother's life. Rosie watched as her dad passed out/was arrested/vomited, and had to talk her mum out of killing herself.

As an adult, trying to come to grips with her less than conventional childhood, Rosie navigated her way through eating disorders, nude acting roles, mental health issues and awkward Tinder dates. Then she had an epiphany: to stop pretending to be who she wasn't and embrace her true self - a girl who loved drinking wine in her underpants on Sunday nights - and become an Anti-Cool Girl.

An irrepressible, blackly comic memoir, Rosie Waterland's story is a clarion call for Anti-Cool Girls everywhere.


REVIEW

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. Laugh out loud funny, especially in the beginning which was more lighter and not as dark as some of the rest of the book. And I mean LAUGH, laugh out loud which involves shrieks, teary giggles and really unflattering pig snorts that are just guaranteed to make you look insane to all the people around you!

Rosie had absolutely no problem showing her bad sides, her embarrassing sides and was completely able to poke fun at herself, which I not only admired but found really refreshing. Often in memoirs, people only show the best of themselves and if they do include details about themselves that are unsavoury, they blame them on other people and I HATE that! So I not only enjoyed reading about ALL of Rosie, but respected her for putting herself out there.

Have to be honest: I didn't enjoy Rosie as an adult stories as much as Rosie's childhood and teenhood tales. Maybe because I'm in that lower age gap but I think also Rosie had that childhood naivety which added to the humour to the whole story but which she seemed to lose when she hit her twenties.

It was REALLY heart wrenching. As this is a memoir, not a work of fiction, it's hard to push away that everything in the book actually happened and it made Rosie's stories even more poignant . Yes, it was hilarious, but it was also heart breaking in others with some of the things poor Rosie went through.

Highly recommended. A truly excellent memoir that I will definitely pick up again in the future. This book will stay on my mind for quite awhile.



::Thank You Harper for the review copy!::
 
What do you think of memoirs??!! Like them, hate them, avoid them....? WHAT?!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Review and Giveaway of Demon Road by Derek Landy! :: a car that eats people?! YES PLEASE

23253921Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: August 28th 2015
Source: From the publisher
Purchase: Mighty Ape | Book Depository |
Read it in: 4 1/2 hours
Word Rating: Creepy with a side of FABULOUS

Full of Landy’s trademark wit, action and razor sharp dialogue, DEMON ROAD kicks off with a shocking opener and never lets up the pace in an epic road-trip across the supernatural landscape of America. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in...Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.

Forced to go on the run, she hurtles from one threat to another, revealing a tapestry of terror woven into the very fabric of her life. Her only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be…


::Thank you to Harper Collins for the review copy!::

THINGS THAT WERE FANTASTICALLY BRILLIANT AND THEREFORE I LIKED VERY MUCH

+ Amber! Amber wasn't perfect, she could be annoying, make stupid decisions and be as exasperating as a lid of a jar that just. Won't. Come OFF., but I think that's why I liked her so much!  She was also brave, compassionate, smart and made an awesome demon! ;)

+ Other characters! NONE of these characters were boring although *cough* they reminded me slightly of the Skulduggery Pleasant at times...not that I minded at all though! ;)

+ That ending!!  OMG THAT ENDING. *brain blows up* That whole book was worth reading JUST for the ending!

+ The CAR. Hehehhehehe, that car made me laugh SO much! It very definitely had a life of it's own and was probably one of my favourite things about DEMON ROAD.

http://orig11.deviantart.net/dc94/f/2008/143/c/0/killer_car_by_llooyydd.gif
it ate people a little bit like this

+ THAT ENDINNNNNNNNG. Derek Landy just knows how to write good endings that end on painful cliffhangers and make you want to stick a fork in your eye. URGHHH. Where is book two?! Please don't tell me I have to wait another year!

+ It didn't have the dry humour that Skulduggery Pleaseant has, but it was still funny! And I laughed a lot which is ALWAYS a good sign!



THINGS THAT MADE ME GRUMBLE AND EVER SO SLIGHTLY CRANKY

+ I couldn't help feeling that it was WAAAAAY to long. I thought at least 100 pages could've been chopped BUT THAT'S JUST ME. I just found it seemed to take my attention away from the story but it was still good!!

+ I loved the killer car but...was a) disappointed that the way it ate people was kind of boring and b) I felt like half of the book was just spent IN the car and the other half actually running around having adventures and killing things and avoiding being killed themselves!

+ It definitely lacked the humour that was so bountiful in Skulduggery Pleasant. It was still funny, but not AS funny and the humour didn't feel fluid but a little forced. I still enjoyed it, but I was a bit sad that the Skulduggery edge didn't seem to be there.

+ I found it to be quite slow in a way a book can be slow when it's based around a girl trying to find a way to stop her demon parents and friends trying to eat her while road tripping with a guy who owns a car that is literally alive and likes to eat people and other awesome things happen, but for about 95% of the book I felt like we were going at this really slow steady  pace and then BAM! That last 5% was so action packed and thrilling and just AMAZING and really, really fast paced that I thought the whole book is worth reading just for the last 5%.

+ It's set in America. So one of the things I adored about Skulduggery Pleasant was that it was set in Ireland! IRELAND!! It was different! It was refreshing! I loved it! And while there is absolutely nothing wrong about setting a book in America...90% of the YA books I read are set in America.

OVERALL

 I LOVED this book! Eeeeek where is the next one??!! Sure, I had a few problems but in the end this book is REALLY good. GO AND READ IT NOW!




Yes! Giveaway! Harper Collins NZ has very kindly given me the opportunity to give away ONE copy of Demon Road!


RULES
+ New Zealand residents only (sorry international peeps!)
+ NO CHEATING. (I check!)
+ Harper Collins will mail a copy to you so if you win you must be comfortable in giving me your postal address to pass on!
+ Giveaway is open for a week! (Hurry up and enter already!)



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Read anything by Derek Landy?
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