Monday, 3 October 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

To me, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is chocolate. It’s sweet, I can rely on it to make me smile and there is no way I would ever turn it away. It’s a book I whole heartedly love and the one I pick up when I want to feel happy and laugh. I love the story, I love the characters, I love the setting (I mean it’s Paris!) and I definitely love the boy.
But if Anna and the French Kiss is chocolate, then Lola and the Boy Next Door is a lemon sherbet. It’s brightly coloured, quirky and is guaranteed to make you smile when you hit that part in the centre that fizzes on your tongue.

In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think.
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket—a gifted inventor—steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
(Taken from Stephanie Perkins website)

After reading Anna and the French Kiss I had hugely high expectations for Lola. She was going to have to try and fill the exceptionally big shoes Anna and Etienne had left behind, or at least attempt to wrestle for a place in my heart beside them. Or, at least, that’s what I’d thought. Then I met Lola. And only then did I realise there was no way she needed to fill their shoes. She brought her own. And they sparkle.
I loved this book so much. I literally did a happy dance when I saw it sitting on the shelf at the book shop and then haven’t stopped reading it since then. I was even slightly rude to the girl I had to pay for the book I was so distracted from the moment I picked it up. (Sorry book store girl!)
The cast of characters in Lola and the Boy Next Door are colourful, zany and I promise you will fall in love with them, none more so than Lola herself. Lola is rarely seen without something sparkly and in turn she makes the pages of the book sparkly. While I have to admit I didn’t take an instant shining to her as I did Anna she grew on me and by the end, when I turned the final page I was truly sad I didn’t have a little bit more time with her.
Not only to we have Lola in this fantastic book but we also have Cricket. And oh my God do I love him! I think – and I’m shocked by this too—I may even love him slightly more than I love Etienne. He’s sweet and imperfectly-perfect. And once again Stephanie Perkins has presented us a boy with fantastic and memorable hair. I will say no more on Cricket as he is someone you need to meet for yourself.
It was also fantastic to see a few returning characters who I would’ve missed had they not been showing up here and there. Who? Once, again you’ll have to find out for yourself.
One of my favourite things about Anna and the French Kiss was the prose. It was written in such a way that I didn’t feel as though I was just reading a story, but I was living it with Anna, seeing everything she saw and hearing her very thoughts. And that same quality I found in Lola. When she was sad I could feel it, when something hilarious was happening I laughed along with her and that is what really brings this book to life.
That and of course that fizzy centre I was talking about earlier. It’s a fizz that definitely left me feeling warm and fuzzy and the part I love most about what is definitely a book I will love reading again and again. Thank you so much Stephanie Perkins for writing such a fantastic, dare I say fabulous novel.
And if there is anyone who’s read this and still isn’t planning on reading this book, well, why the hell not? Go read it! Now!


Saturday, 30 July 2011

Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

Sorry for the long time between posts but I spent a few weeks in Europe with no internet connection which made it kind of hard to post! That and the fact that everytime I've finished a book lately there has been another awesome one begging me to pick it up as soon as possible. Finally one broke through this, my need to sing it's praise so strong! And that one was Nightshade's amazing sequel Wolfsbane.

    How many trials can love survive?
This thrilling sequel to the much-talked-about Nightshade begins just where it ended-Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she's certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer-one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack-and the man-she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.
(Taken from the Nightshade website)

Let me say this, I have been waiting for months for the release of this book! Yes, I know everyone else who read Nightshade has been waiting anxiously for that long too, as you can't help but fall in love with it, but I swear my waiting has been slightly more violent than yours. Everytime I saw a tweet that someone else had an ARC of Wolsbane  I got practically homicidal! Luckily, most of those people lived in the US and as I'm in Australia are safely out of my reach. And even though it has felt like forever, left with that cliffhanger, it was well worth the wait.

In Nightshade I fell in love with the deep and intricate characters created by Andrea Cremer and in Wolfsbane not only was I introduced to a new a whole cast of new characters to love but some old favourites of mine were back. And bestill my nerdily beating heart if I haven't fallen in love with Silas.

The unique intensity and depth of the relationships I found in Nightshade was once again present in Wolfsbane making it a compelling read I couldn't get enough of. Usually with a love triangle I'm quick to pick a side and stick to it as I did with the first in this series. After Nightshade I was firmly Team Ren. Now, after finishing book two I'm still Tean Ren though there were points where I wavered a little.

And that ending! Ugh, yet another cliffhanger from the brilliant Andrea Cremer. I don't think I have ever had this much trouble waiting for a book! I honestly was naive enough to believe that reading the first chapter of what is going to be the third in this awesome series, Bloodrose, would help with the cliffhanger. But nope it just left me truly longing for more!

Without putting spoilers in here there isn't much else I can say as I really really really (!!) just want to go all "OMG I couldn't believe it when ..... happened!" and  "Did you see that coming? Did you?!?" and "*whistles lowly and fans self* Shay was so hot in that scene, you know the one ...." so if you've read Wolfsbane I seriously need someone to talk about it to!

Also, the winner for the City of Fallen Angel giveaway is...  Kamsajini Thillainathan! Please send me an email with your address to post it!


Sunday, 29 May 2011

Signed City of Fallen Angels Giveaway!

In my mind there is one question that determines whether or not you're sane: Do you like Cassandra Clare's books?

If you answered no, get away from this blog. No, don't do that! I'm just kidding but this probably isn't the kind of giveaway for you. If you answered yes, you and I are going to get along awesomely.

For anyone unaware, Cassandra Clare's fourth The Mortal Instrument's book came out at the beginning of last month and since then she has been touring even making her eventual way all the way down under to Australia!

And of course as a massive Aussie fan of hers I went to a few of her Melbourne signings the last of which was her tour wrap up party!

The event was awesome and Cassie was so nice and did a great talk. Amongst all this fun, I made sure to get an extra copy of City of Fallen Angels signed so I could give it away to you guys!

So here's the deal:
- The giveaway is international, so where ever you live you can enter
- You must be a follower of the blog to enter
- 1+ entry for following on twitter
- 1+ entry for tweeting about this competition
- 2+ entries for blogging about this contest. If you don't have a blog facebook is included in this.

The giveaway will run for two weeks closing at midnight on Sunday the 12th of June Australian EST. To enter fill in this form.

And go! If you have any questions comment below and I'll do my best to answer!

Edited: Due to a complete lack of anyone entering this contest I'm extending the date to Friday the 24th of June.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Badass. That is my word of choose to describe both the protagonist and the author of this amazing book. I’d had my eye on this book for a few weeks after hearing amazing things about it and now after reading it, I want to write so more amazing things about it as it is, as all the reviews said; amazing.  
Divergent is one of those books where you pick it up, begin to read and can’t put it down. You physically can’t. From the moment I began reading I could not be detached from it and read the entire thing in one sitting. I was walking the streets of Melbourne with book in front of my face, stepping on more than one set of toes and getting yelled at for not looking where I was going but I really couldn’t care less. And now that I’ve finished, I’ve already picked it up again to lose myself in this astonishing world Veronica Roth has created.

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. 

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. (Taken from the Divergent Trilogy fansite here)

Without being too spoilery, the book is set in a world where when you turn sixteen you must choose a faction in which to spend your life. You can stay with your family in the faction you grew up in, or you can leave and make a home for yourself elsewhere. There are five factions; Amity, Erudite, Abnegation, Candor and Dauntless. And they each represent something different.
This was an aspect of the book I loved. I loved sitting there after I’d finished the book and mulling over exactly which faction I think I would belong in. Would I brave enough to join the Dauntless? Good enough for Abnegation? Which would I choose, and could I ever belong there? This is an amazingly thought provoking novel.
With all the layers of secret and mystery in Divergent, it is truly a page turner that you will not be able to forget. An intricate plot unravels in this action packed novel through the eloquent writing of Veronica Roth. It will have you screaming at the book, laughing out loud and when you turn the last page, begging for more.
As I said at the top of this review, I cannot describe Tris, the protagonist, with any word more appropriate than badass. Tris is everything I wish I could be, brave, strong, smart and and at her core essentially good. She is also real. I'm not a fan of characters who show no indecision and don't even think about what they may have done after it and therefore I loved Tris who reflects back, shows regret and thought on what she's done. And loved watching her grow as a character and can't wait to read more about her,
Also this book offered me yet another fictionaly guy to crush on. And oh how I love him so. Four. He is the man I want to have my fictional babies with! I don't want to say too much about him so I don't ruin him for anyone, but just remember, when you read abourt him and subsequently fall in love with him, I've called dibs!
With a cast of memorable and sometimes sinister characters Divergent is something special all fans of dystopian fiction should read!

4/5 silver platters!

- Laura

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Recently, I've developed a bit of a crush on the dystopian genre. All the new ones coming out have been awesome, (such as Matched by Ally Condie and Delirium by Lauren Oliver) and I've found myself picking up all my old favourites (such as the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins). Even the next book on my to-be-read list is a dystopian, Divergent by Veronica Roth. And if you too haven't jumped on this genre to give it a massive loving bear hug like I have, well, why not?! The only thing is, I think Lauren DeStefano may have ruined all other dystopians for me with her brilliant debut novel, Wither.
(Look at that beautiful cover! After reading Wither I can’t wait to see the cover of Fever)
What if you knew exactly when you would die? Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb -- males only live to age twenty-five and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden′s geniune love for her, and a tenuous trust amoung her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape -- to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden′s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.
(Taken from Harper Collins website)

I'd heard many good things about Wither before it had even been released and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Though living in Australia meant I had to wait a little longer, definitely worth the wait!. And now that I've read it I don't think any of the reviews I've read could ever depict acurately the sheer amazingness that is this book. I don't I think I can either but I'm going to do my best.

Wither is a story set in the future in a world where through genetic alterations all the diseases we're accustomed to have been eradicated. In the wake of one generation of perfectly healthy babies came all the generations affected by a virus that causes all the men to die at the age of 25 and all the women to die at 20. Lauren DeStefano has done a beautiful job explaining the intricacies of this world she's created. Not only are we given the impression that this is a future that could actually happen we're horrified by the terrible consequences it has.

The novel is told from the perspective of 16 year old Rhine Ellery, a character I can't get enough of who is practically over-flowing with depth and life. There are many layers to Rhine and we're shown who she is when she faces the challenges of being sold into a marriage with a rich man she's never met before.

There is a full and realistic cast of characters including my favourites of Gabriel and Jenna. The interactions between these characters feels genuine and even those you don't want to you fall in love with simply for their depth.

What I loved most about this book though was Lauren DeStefano's writing style. Wither is written in beautiful prose using imagery and metaphors that bring this compelling story to life.

It's a thought provoking novel that left me longing for more. I now can't wait for the sequel Fever to come out. Waiting for it is going to feel like forever!

Miss DeStefano also tweeted this afternoon (afternoon in Australia at least!) "So there is a character, in book 3, that everyone will just adore. And if you don't, I'll bake you a muffin and serve it to you myself" I really want someone to remind me to remind her of this when book 3 comes out so if I don't actually adore this character we at least get her to come to Australia to serve me that muffin so I can meet her! Because in my opinion Lauren DeStefano is a genius and you should all go read her book!

4/5 Silver Platters!

- Laura

Friday, 15 April 2011

In which I brag about giant runed cookies!

So, being the completely normal and un-book obsessed person that I am, the idea that I would ever make giant cookies with the runes from The Mortal Instruments book series is ludicrous. However, this is actually how I chose to spend my Saturday!  I mean, come on, I had to do something to fill in the time until Clockwork Prince or City of Lost Souls, and now that City of Fallen Angels is out and has been read by me the wait is stretching out before me!

So, being, aforementioned, normal, today I made giant, and I mean GIANT(!!!) cookies with chocolate chip runes!

As you can (kinda) see, there is Fearless in up the top, Equilibrium on the left and Angelic Power on the right!

                                                    And a little closer, Fearless.

And so you can see the actual GIANTNESS of the cookies! It's bigger than my head!

And here is a bigger Angelic Power!

And yes, I am this purely awesome! Yes the cookies tasted awesome! And yes I know you're jealous!

Now the only real question is will the Fearless runed cookie make me fearless? I'll let you know!


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Review: Die For Me by Amy Plum

So you remember last week when you heard screaming, manical giggling and the sounds of a happy dance but could see no source for all the raucous? That was me. Yeah, I'm sorry for all the noise, but getting the news that I could read Amy Plums, Die For Me, early just made me that happy. It's even more impressive you heard me when you consider that I live in Australia and you live... well... I don't know where you live. But I know you heard me. That's how loud and excited I was.

I'd heard about this book a few months ago and as soon as I knew a little about it I couldn't wait to read it! And all that excitement, screaming and the subsequent losing of my voice from said screaming were totally worth it!

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier’s parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life—and memories—behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate’s guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he’s a revenant—an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again

 (Taken from Amy Plums website here)

Wow. That's all I could say for days after reading this book whenever anyone asked me what I thought, just, wow. It was amazing, unique and totally uncliched! And as sad as statement as this is, this is becoming remarkably rare in the YA genre. After the recent vampire craze (I'm not saying it's bad, hell, I was definitely a part of it, but am now a little over it) it has become harder to find a non vampire related book that's still paranormal and a great read. Well, this is definitely one of those special books that have you stalking the author wanting the next one faster than they can write it! (No, I'm not stalking you Amy Plum!...yet...)

I loved the concept of revenants in this book. They were something I'd never read about before and can't wait to read about again in the next one!

Die For Me also had a fantastic cast of characters ranging from those who were completely normal humans to the undead revenants. I adored Kate as a protagonist as she was someone I felt I could really relate to as a character and she wasn't one of those heroines out there who has no personality or can't think for herself. No, Kate was a strong lead who I loved all the more for the fact she actually bothered to think things through before diving in head first.

I also loved the boys. Oh those hot, sexy revenants boys. I swoon at the mere thought of Vincent and Jules. These were truly believable characters, if you take out the fact they're undead. Without saying anything that will ruin it for anyone I loved the fact that they'd both lived for a long time and were a little jaded because of it. And I'm sure that after reading this book a few of you will disagree with me when I make this statement, but, I want Vincent as a best friend and Jules as a boyfriend, because I think I may be a little in love with him! It's the whole sexy, french, tortured artist thing I think.

Amy Plum also has a fantastic style of writing. There was fantastic use of figurative laguage throughout the book and great descriptions that had me smelling the croissants and strolling down the Seine river with Kate in Paris.

I also need to say how much I adore the cover of this book! If I ever got a book published that would be the cover I'd want! I loved the old one with the boat, even more after reading the book, but this one is just gorgeous!

I want to reccommend this book so highly it's ridiculous! I mean so hoghly that should you want to scroll back to the top of this post on how much I love this book, you still wouldn't be high enough! In other words, as soon as it comes out drop whatever you're holding, unless of course your holding a baby or dog or other living creature, and go buy this book! You won't regret it!
You should also go and follow the author, Amy Plum, on twitter. I've talked to her a few times on twitter and she's super sweet and friendly and so nice. Her user name is @IHeartRevenants . Go follow her!

4/5 silver platter!


Thank-you, Harper Collins, Amy Plum and NetGalley for letting me read this book!