Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Book Review: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: Pan MacMillian
Pages: 373 pages
R.R.P: $16.99

The exhilaratingly seductive new series from the author of the bestselling Starcrossed series

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

My review
Thoughts on the book: If ever there was a first book in a series that will have you captivated from the start, Trial by Fire is it. From the first page we are lead on a mystifying journey through two different worlds, one in a world where everything is as we know it and another the same world but very different, a world where Magic is everywhere. We are introduced to our main character Lily in the world as we know it. Here she is very sick and none knows what is wrong with her. Suddenly after one eventful night where everything she knew is turned on its head after a major betrayal, Lily goes down to the beach to get away. Suddenly she is whisked away to another world where everything is the same but also very different. In this new world there is a girl who is her in everyday but people in this new world call her Lillian and she is the most feared person on the planet. Suddenly Lily basically has to relearn everything she knew and decide if she is the same as the Lillian in this world or if she is a far stronger and better leader for this world.

I am in love with this series. It took me a long time to read this book, well over a week, but that was because I would put the book down because I really wanted to saviour it and saviour it I did. I really can't describe how much I fell in love with the alternative world that the author wrote about and all the different views she made on everyday things. All of the main characters were very strong, independent, loveable and will have you wishing for the strong friendships that Lilly comes to have. Lily herself is by far the strongest character. I don't know many people who would do the things that she does in the book, especially what she does at the end. I don't want to give to much away about Lily though as you really have to read about her yourself. She is defiantly one of my top female characters for the year.

May be a bit of a spoiler here
There is a bit towards the end of the book where Lily mentions that when she was a kid that she had gone to Witch's End (Fat Man's Misery in her world) with Tristan and that after visiting this place was when she started to get sick in her world. I'm wondering whether maybe when she went there she had been swapped with the Lillian from her world and that's why she got sick because she couldn't really cope in this new world. Hmm something to think about and find out with the next two books in the series which I can't wait to read.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, 23 September 2016

Week in Review #1

I have thought about doing a weekly post like this for awhile. I know I have tried other ones like this but I'm hoping this one will stick. Here I will post the book that I am currently reading, blog posts that I have made that week, any news and books that I have recieved.

Currently reading

What I'm going to read next

Blog posts made this week
I have been very busy this week trying to catch up on all of my reviews that I have been behind in due to a family emergency.

Caramel Hearts review 

Q&A with E.R. Murray

Tell us Something True Review

Nerve review

Books I recieved for Review

And that's it for this week

Book Review: Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

Author: Jeanne Ryan
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 294 pages
R.R.P: $19.99
Are you playing the game, or is the game playing you?

Vee doesn't know if she has the guts to play NERVE, an online game of high-stakes dares. But whoever's behing the game knows exactly what she wants, enticing her lust-worthy prizes and a super hot partner.

With Ian on her team, it's easy to agree to another dare. And another. And another.

At first it's thrilling, as the manipulative audience, or 'Watchers', cheer them on to riskier challenges. But things quickly get out of hand.

Will Vee and Ian risk their lives for the Grand Prize dare? If will they lose NERVE?

My review
Thoughts on the book: It seems like every book I read at the moment is one that I am adding to my favourite reads for 2016, Nerve being no exception. From the Prologue I was intruiged and wanted to know how the girl had been put into that position and so I was then taken on the ride of my life with the main character Vee. Vee, who has always been the girl in the background, decides that she is finally going to take a chance to be noticed and signs up to play the new online game, NERVE, where people are given dares that they have to complete to earn prizes. Vee like everyone else believes the game I scripted and that people aren't really put into those positions, but the further she gets in the rounds the harder and the more dangerous the dares become and no one is coming to help her. But Vee is now certainly not the girl in the background anymore.

I found the idea of NERVE very interesting and was kept on the edge of my seat throughout the book and while the dares were being played out. All I could think of was imagine if this was real and people were really doing this and then I thought well in a way they are. I mean it's not exactly like  the NERVE game in the book but isn't Survivor and The Amazing Race kind of like this. People know what they signed up for to an extent but then there are always challenges along they way that they weren't expecting and ones that they may even fear. Just something to think about.

There were a few things that bugged me. First I was surprised with how quickly Vee got over her crush on Matthew, as the bulk of the book is based in one nights timepsan it is a little hard to believe that in basically two hours, Vee is over Matthew and head over heals in love with Ian, Ian being someone she just met and who she has no history on whatsoever. Second the ending, it was left wide open so we are left guessing what may occur.i would have loved this to have been the first book of a series as I think it could have been as big as the Hunger Games if it continued. But do t just listen to me go out and by the book yourself and go along on the NERVE ride.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Book Review: Tell us Something True by Dan Reinhardt

Tell Us Something True
Author: Dana Reinhardt
Publisher: Oneworld
Pages: 202 pages
R.R.P: $16.99

Seventeen year old River doesn't know what to do with himself when Penny, the girl he adores, dumps him.mhe lives in LA, where nobody walks anywhere, and Penny was his ride; he never bothered getting a licence. He's stuck. He's desperate. He's lonely.

One afternoon he does the unthinkable- he starts walking, and stumbles on a support group for teens with addictions. He fakes his way into the meetings and begins to connect either the other kids, and when he finds himself falling for one of the girls in the group a delightful comedy of errors ensuses. River wants to tell the truth, but he can't stop lying, and his tangle of deception ,as unravel before he learns how to handle the most potent drug of all: true love.

My review
Thoughts on the book: Well I just added another book to my 2016 favourites. This time it is the fabulous Tell us Something True by Dana Reinhardt. Though it is a rather short book, 202 pages which you absolutely fly through, so much happens in that short amount of time which is a real tribute to the author and her fabulous writing. There is also a hidden twist that I didn't see coming at all. It literally hit me in the face when it was revealed and then I sat back and found that it was laid out right in front of me the whole time and I just never put two and two together. Dana Reindhart makes the short 202 pages feel like a 400/500 page book with the amazing detail that goes into the storyline and our main character River. From the first couple of paragraphs you know your in for a fantastic ride.

Up until the afternoon Penny Brockaway dumped me in the middle of Echo Park Lake, I didn't believe in fate.
Before you start conjuring visions of me in a zippered body bag sinking to the bottom of that filthy water, I mean to say she dumped me, as in broke up with me, as in she took my heart and stomped on it while wearing a pair of those clunky boots she liked, and then she got behind the wheel of her SUV and she drove over it before picking up what flattened pieces were left and tossing them in the compost bin.

I think I also found one of my favourite male characters for 2016 too, River. I  picture him to be a bit like Sheldon off the Big Bang Theory. He is just a very likeable character who has no clue about anything, such as since being with Penny he basically gave up his perfectly normal life and did whatever she wanted, he even stopped hanging around his friends who he had been friends with for years. So when they finally break up he really has no idea how to function without her, River believes he can't live without her and if Penny just realised how much he loved her then she would want him back. Slowly, overtime he realises just how big of a jerk he had been and vows to turn his life around.

So if you are looking for your next favourite YA book look no further than Tell us Somethjng True. 

Rating: 5/5

Q&A with author of Caramel Hearts, E.R. Murray

I was lucky enough to be contacted by a representative from Bloomsbury who asked if I would like to review Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray and also interview her as well. Like all bloggers I jumped at the chance. I couldn't believe when the author actually contacted me herself and I dealt with her personally. It was a great honour to read her book and interview her. E.R Murray was very easy to communicate with and I hope there will be more opportunities to help her with future books.

What inspired you to write Caramel Hearts?

Timing had a part to play; I wrote Caramel Hearts when my first book, The Book of Learning – Nine Lives Trilogy 1 went on submission to publishers; that book is an urban fantasy set in Ireland and I wanted to write something different after spending two years with those characters. 

I also wanted to look at the effects of addiction on a family unit, and explore a protagonist from a poor background – lower classes are still under-represented in young adult fiction and its something I’m interested in because I know what it’s like to grow up in a society that has little or no expectation of youI also know what it’s like to grow up in a family affected by addiction; but the biographical element is in the emotions, rather than the characters or events – they’re completely fictional.

There was also a timely and unexpected invite from the National Library of Ireland; they spotted on twitter that I was going to write something involving a handwritten cookbook and they had some incredible 16th century examples to show me. The recipes had ingredients like ‘frosted plums picked by moonlight’ and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. They showed me how powerful the recipes in my own book could be – and it all came together from there. 

Liv is an amazing character and goes through some tough battles in the book. Is she based around someone you know?

What happens to me is this: characters start bugging me (usually at really inconvenient times, like when I’m working on another book) and eventually I have to listen. I find out their fears, their challenges, their desires and that’s my starting point. I live in their shoes and they take on a life of their own. I figure out what they need and how they’ll get it – this is how the story forms. Once I know these details, I flesh the characters out through experience and research and people watching, so my characters always contain an amalgam of other people’s traits, but they’re never actually based on a person

I love the recipes that you have included in the story and the way they are included. Are these your own personal recipes?

Yes, I created all the recipes. I researched recipes that would be localized and also available at the time Liv’s mum would have been baking, and then I read a variety of recipes and created my own versions. I baked them and – seeing as I don’t have much of a sweet tooth – I tested them on lots of willing victims. Then I altered the recipe until people felt it was just right. The recipes had to fit the story and the mood, as well as the emotions of the characters. It took a long time to get the recipes in their correct place, as some would fit in multiple spots; it was all about where they had the most impact, where they fused best with the story. 

Caramel Hearts has some very relevant issues that many teens face today. What was the hardest part about writing these issues into Caramel Hearts?

I guess the hardest bit was drawing on memories that I didn’t want to revisit. But I also found researching bullying today painful; the fact that it’s just as prevalent and just as vicious as when I was aschool, makes me really sad. There are so many anti-bullying campaigns, but it’s still such a huge issue. Where are we going wrong?

What authors inspire you now and when you were younger?

I find other authors a constant source of inspiration. Every time I read a book that I don’t want to put down, or come across a character that I can’t forget, or a landscape I don’t want to leave, something fires up inside me that makes me want to write more, better, with more passion. I don’t know where my love of reading came from – it wasn’t typical at home – but I can’t remember a time when books didn’t matter to me. 

I’ve always felt this way so it’s difficult to name particular authors but Stephen King, George Orwell and Charles Dickens really spoke to me as a teen. Other writers I’ve grown to really admire over the years include Cormac McCarthy, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Neil GaimanHaruki Murakami, and David Mitchell – they’re all so versatile and brilliant.

When it comes to children’s and young adult authors, Phillip Pullman made a huge impression on me, as did JK Rowling and Melvin Burgess, and right now, I really admire the impact that Louise O’Neill’s books are having on Irish society. But the author that has really made me sit up and think, that has made me see how boundaries can be pushed and makes me aspire to improve, is Jon Walter. 

What is your favourite book?

That’s like asking me to choose a favourite puppy! Wuthering Heights is the book I’ve read the most times in my life – I love the multiple narrators, the use of setting, the passion and supernatural elements. American Gods by Neil Gaiman is the book I wish I’d written, and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami are two books I frequently revisit. My Name’s Not Friday by Jon Walter (published 2015) is one of the best children’s books ever written – if you haven’t already, go get a copyMy favourite fiction published so far in 2016 are Red Dirt by E. M. Reapy (that’s set in Australia), The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerny (winner of the Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction) and Nothing Tastes as Goodby Claire Hennessy.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Book Tour review and Q&A: Elegy by Jane Abbott

Author: Jane Abbott
Publisher: Random House Australia
Pages: 363 pages
R.R.P: $19.99
In a small Australian town, the most epic love story in history is unfolding... Again.

Everybody knows everyone in Kincasey, and nothing ever happens. That's what Jenny thinks when she moves there- until she meets the mysterious Michael Webster.

But when Michael gets into a fight with the town bully, long-held resentments simmer to the surface, loyalties are tested, and Jenny finds herself the centre of attention. Her situation isn't helped by a deepening friendship with Michael's stepbrother, Gabe, or her jealousy of Gabe's beautiful but aloof sister, Caitlin.

Caitlin is the only one who knows the terrible truth: this isn't the first life she and Michael have lived. They have a destiny to fulfil- and it's time for Michael's powers to awaken. But what use is power if it can't give you what you most desire?

My review
Thoughts on the book: OMG where to start this review. Maybe I might do this review a bit different and start with the ending. I had a love/hate relationship with the ending. I felt like there was this huge big build up and I was on the edge of my seat and then all of a sudden I'm not where I thought I would be and I've been thrown forward without the details that I'm actually wanting, that said I had to hold back the tears when the ending came.  Everything was wrapped up so nearly and it was a very fitting end.

It's hard to write this review without giving too much away. There are two amazing love stories that are told; one spanning years and years and another so new yet just as beautiful and strong. It will leave you with a warm loving feeling and will have you think g about your first love and all the memories or snippets that point to past loves. The author also references big and small characters in stories past and how each one has a part to play in the story. Maybe that's why she wrote the story from the perspective of Jenny, Gabe, Michael, Caitlin and Caset. Some of these characters feature often and some not as much but each plays a massive role in the tale of Elegy.

Like in the book, I myself grew up in a small rural town like the characters in the Elegy and I could really  relate to how things are and the characters. It's hard growing up in a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business and your always under the watchful eyes of everyone else. Just like me I think most people will be able to identify with some part of the story.

Rating: 4/5

Q&A with Jane Abbott

Congratulations on the release of Elegy. It is an amazing book. How would you describe Elegy to perspective readers?


Thank you. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Elegy is magical realism – a touch of fantasy and mythology woven into a very contemporary story. It’s a story about love and lust, mateship and family, courage and sacrifice, where the arrival of new girl, Jenny, sets off a series of events too big for the small town setting. In turns funny and sad, I hope it will satisfy readers.



All of the characters are really likeable and most people would easily be able to identify with what is going on in their lives or the character themselves. Do you have a favourite and if so which one and why?


I adore Gabe. Who wouldn’t? He’s the archetypal male hero (deliberately so). Dependable, good looking, and possessing a physical as well as an inner strength that is unmatched. He embodies the mythical Heracles, and his loyalty and love for friends and family are innate. He was so much fun to write and, though it wasn’t my original intention, Elegy became his story as much as it didMichael’s and Cait’s.



I grew up loving retellings of Greek mythology. Elegy's plot is full of Greek Mythology. Have you always loved Greek Mythology and do you have a favourite myth?


Yes, I too grew up on a diet of mythology. Greek, Roman, Persian, Norse and Egyptian. I couldn’t get enough of it. I stuck to mainly Greek myths in Elegy, with a few throw-ins (Egyptian and Persian) and of course the legend of Lancelot and Guinevere. It’s a bit of a mix, but it was important to get the right mix, and not make it too confusing. I hope I’ve managed to do that. My favourite is, of course, the story of Prometheus, because of his selfless act to bring fire to mankind, but really all the myths that are featured in the book are favourites of mine. Which is probably why they’re there!



I grew up in a small farming community like Kincasey where everyone knew everyone else's business even sometimes before they did. Why did you chose a small community setting rather than a city?


Elegy is such a big story, with a lot of big themes, so it seemed right to set it in small town where everything could be magnified. Some of the biggest stories occur in the most insignificant places. Plus, I have a small property in country Victoria, and I wanted to use the opportunity to describe the landscape I love so much.



Your writing is fantastic. Are there any plans for more books being written in the future by you?


Thank you! That’s a lovely compliment. Elegy was the first novel I wrote, but mysecond, Watershed, was actually published in July this year. It’s a very different read, and definitely not YA. I’m taking a bit of a break at the moment – it’s been a very busy time for me – but when I get back into it I’ll be working on the sequel to Watershed. I would love to write another YA book, and hope to do so when commitments and deadlines permit.



Last question. What is your favourite book and why?


I have so many favourites, it’s impossible to choose just one. And, every year, the list just grows. I love The Road, by McCarthy, because the writing is so beautiful. I adore The Ballad of Lee Cotton, by Christopher Wilson, because it’s brilliant and quirky. And I’ve read just about everything written by Ursula Le Guin, because she is, quite simply, one of the greatest storytellers of our time. 


Saturday, 10 September 2016

Book Review: Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray

Caramel Hearts
Author: E.R. Murray 
Publisher: Alma Books
Pages: 340 pages
R.R.P: $19.99

A warm hearted novel about baking cakes, making mistakes, and finding your way home.

Liv Bloom's life is even more complicated than that of your average fourteen-year-old: her father walked out in the family when she was young, her mother is in a recovery centre for alcoholics, and her older sister is struggling to step into Mum's shoes. The only person she can turn to is her best friend Sarah, who gets out of scrapes at school and is a constant source of advice and companionship. One day Liv discovers a book of recipes written in her mum's handwriting, which sets her off on a journey towards self discovery and reconciliation- but a theft, a love rivalry and a school bully are just some of the many obstacles on the way.

Structured around real cake recipes, Caramel Hearts is a coming of age novel about love, disappointment and hope, and discovering the true value of friends and family, no matter how dysfunctional they are.

My review
Thoughts on the book: 
Caramel Hearts tells the story of fourteen year old Liv Bloom who seems to have the worst life imaginable. Her dad left when she was young, her mother is an alcoholic and is currently in rehab, which means her sister (who had finally left town and was at university trying to make something of herself) has had to come back to look after Liv so that she doesn't go into foster care. But as much as she loves her sister, she doesn't want her as her mother figure and so they butt heads, but if you thought Liv's life was bad now, it's about to get a whole lot worse. After one bad mistake, which involves someone who was actually really nice and tried to help Liv out when she needed it, Liv looses her best friend and the boy she was starting to have a relationship with, becomes the target for the town bully and her gang and her mum comes home from re-had. All Liv wants to do is get away, but is the grass always greener on the other side?

I was contacted by Adam Kirkman at Bloomsbury to see if I was interested in reviewing a book just about to be released here in Australia and if I wanted to I could also interview the author. That book was Caramel Hearts by E.R. Murray. I haven't heard much about it but I liked the sound of it so like any blogger I of course accepted with great excitement. Not long after replying the author personally contacted me and I can't tell you how thrilling that was for me to receive that first email and the subsequent ones we exchanged. What was one of the most amazing parts of this exchange was E.R. Murray saying that she had been reading my blog. So you can imagine my delight when a parcel turned up and insight was a neatly wrapped up book (as the picture shows below). I couldn't wait to delve into the book.
With its many recipes that are found throughout the book, which I can't wait to try, and the many issues that a lot of teenagers will be able to identify with, I loved Caramel Hearts. From the first couple of chapters you really feel for the main character, Liv and what a tough life she has been dealt. As we dive further and further into the book and learn more about her world you really start to sympathise with her and understand why she does the things that she does. It doesn't mean that what she does it necessarily right, but you know why she has done it. I loved the inclusion of the recipes too. I think it is a fantastic way to break up the strong storylines that we are faced with. I suggest everyone go to your local bookstore or go online and add this book to your TBR pile, you won't be disappointed. Also try some of the recipes in the book too. I can't wait to try the namesake of the book, Caramel Hearts.

Rating: 5/5