Month: May 2016

A New Adult With Heart: Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’Roark

Posted May 29, 2016 by Hannah in New Adult, Reviews / 0 Comments

A New Adult With Heart: Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’RoarkWaking Olivia by Elizabeth O'Roark
Published by Indie on 13th March 2016
Pages: 330
Format: E-Book
Source: Netgalley, Author
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"That girl isn't just trouble of the not-a-team-player, not-a-reliable-runner variety. She's trouble of the devious, manipulative, too-f***ing-hot-for-her-own good variety.

She's the kind of girl who causes trouble merely by existing, and then makes sure to cause more. And the last thing I need right now is more trouble."

A failing farm. His father’s debt. And a struggling college track team. Will Langstrom has too many responsibilities, and the last thing he needs is Olivia Finnegan, a beautiful but troubled new transfer student.

A smart mouth. A strong right hook. And a secret that could destroy her.

Olivia is her own worst enemy, with a past she can’t seem to escape, and the last person she wants help from is a cocky track coach she can never seem to please. Refusing to be pushed away, Will is determined to save her. And determined to resist an attraction that could destroy them both.

I don’t read a lot of New Adult these days, so when I do, I’ve already set my standards quite high in what I suspect. Luckily, I seemed to have found a gem in Waking Olivia, and while it wasn’t perfect, I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I have other NA books.

Olivia has no-one, and seemingly nothing, left to keep her going in the world. After an incident at her old university leaves her barely maintaining a scholarship at a new college, with a track team that hasn’t placed in ages. It’s there that she butts heads with Will Langstrom, the Girl’s track coach.

While Waking Olivia plays into the usual trope of tortured girl/boy needs saving, but I liked the way that Will wasn’t pushy. He was determined to help Olivia, but in a way so that she helped herself more than anything. If anything, that strengthened Olivia as a character. The sexual tension was perfect – just the right amount that should be in a new adult novel, and wasn’t over the top at all.

Sadly I think the pacing seemed to lag a lot in the novel, and the dual POV contributed to this. There wasn’t enough time spent between Will and Olivia, so the choppy nature was a bit off putting. The epilogue at the end seemed unnecessary as well for the HEA we do get regardless. Olivia’s family issues only seemed to be a part of the last quarter of the novel, and could have been worked more into the plot from the beginning.

That being said, O’Roark is definitely now on my radar, I’m keen to read more, if they were just as good as Waking Olivia – a fresh New Adult contemporary for those who are getting tired of reading ‘the same old story’.

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A Rose With A Few Thorns: Eliza Rose by Lucy Worsley

Posted May 28, 2016 by Hannah in Junior Fiction, Reviews / 0 Comments

A Rose With A Few Thorns: Eliza Rose by Lucy WorsleyEliza Rose by Lucy Worsley
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 7th April 2016
Pages: 368
Format: E-Book
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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The captivating debut children's novel from popular television historian Lucy Worsley is an exciting and charming glimpse behind the scenes of the Tudor court.

I would often wonder about my future husband. A knight? A duke? A stable boy?
Of course the last was just a wicked fancy.

Eliza Rose Camperdowne is young and headstrong, but she knows her duty well. As the only daughter of a noble family, she must one day marry a man who is very grand and very rich.

But Fate has other plans. When Eliza becomes a maid of honour, she's drawn into the thrilling, treacherous court of Henry the Eighth . . .

Is her glamorous cousin Katherine Howard a friend or a rival?

And can a girl choose her own destiny in a world ruled by men?

If you were to ask me what one of my favourite periods of history is, I’d probably say The Tudors; specifically, the reign of Henry VIII. There’s something about his reign that just fascinates – which was why Eliza Rose was right up my alley.

Eliza Rose follows the journey of Eliza, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, as she navigates the politics of court life in Tudor times. One of the fantastic things about this novel is that the narrative is that it’s full of history that makes sense. Too often history becomes “boring” to young people, but Worsley weaves Eliza’s tale in such a beautiful way that it wasn’t hard to enjoy reading it. Worsley puts so much attention to detail into bringing Tudor life alive that you can’t help but feel like you’re part of Henry’s court. You can tell she has a real passion for the time period, as it shows in her prose.

Sadly, as much as I loved it, the little things bothered me too much to give it a higher rating. Everyone knows Catherine Howard (in Eliza Rose, as the alternative spelling of Katherine), the fifth wife of Henry, as a notorious flirt and – to put it in modern terms – a bit of a slut. Her crime against the King, adultery, and her fate the same as Anne Boleyn’s – with a beheading. There’s a great Author’s Note at the end of Eliza Rose that discusses Worsley’s thoughts on Catherine, but sadly they contradict with the way she was portrayed in the novel. We barely get a glimpse of Katherine, despite Eliza’s time at court being based around her cousin. I feel like there was no justice done to Katherine in shedding her in a better light – especially to the younger readers the novel is targeted towards. I also thought it was a bit strange that Eliza herself resembled Henry’s daughter in name and looks (something that the author’s note touches on), when a good part of the novel focuses on how families would use their children in an effort to gain favour with the King by basically prostituting them out (which is what Catherine’s family basically did).

In saying that, there aren’t enough historical novels for young readers out there, and I think that this would give a great glimpse into Tudor life for its intended target audience. If you love Tudor history as much as I do, give this one a go – a great read for all ages.

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Falling In & Out of Love With Books

Posted May 25, 2016 by Hannah in And On That Note, Features / 4 Comments

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And On That Note is a sporadic discussion feature where I muse on pressing bookish and non bookish topics.

Confession: Some days, I dread opening a book. Despite the fact that I’ve been dying to read it, more often than not in the past two years books have been forgotten, staying firmly put on shelves or desk or in my handbag when I catch the bus to work (which is my designated reading time). I want to read, but I can’t.

Is it that I’ve fallen out of love with reading? Oh God no. Can you ever, really? Literature has been ingrained into pretty much every aspect of my life since I was young, and it’s my future as well, so I don’t think I’ll ever fall out of love with reading.

But I have fallen out of love with books. I’ve fallen out of love with favourite genres and authors who are problematic. I’ve fallen out of love the constant pressure behind blogging when personal life took over, when the summers became too hot and my body decided it didn’t like me any more. Something that once provided a comfort became a chore, and I fell deeply into the deep dark cavern of the Reader’s Slump.

In saying that, as often as I fall out of love with books, I fall back in love so easily. My reading range has matured as I’ve gotten older – I’m reading more nonfiction, I’ve discovered the easy joy of women’s fiction and my newest guilty pleasure is historical romances.

Every single time though, I keep coming back to Young Adult. Sure, I’ve outgrown a lot of the books I read when I first really begun reading YA, and my tastes have shifted to more mature YA protagonists, but for each cycle of the cursed reading slump that I go through, there’s always one book that brings me back, and there’s always the thought that there are people out there, even at my age, that enjoy those books as much as I do.

Do reading slumps affect how you perceive books? Have you ever fallen out of reading a particular genre at all, or is there always one book that brings you home again?

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An Ending So Perfect in The Winner’s Kiss

Posted May 24, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 1 Comment

An Ending So Perfect in The Winner’s KissThe Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 24th March 2016
Pages: 496
Format: E-Book
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War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

It’s always hard to review the last book in a series, but just as hard to review one which is literally perfection personified. If you haven’t started The Winner’s Trilogy yet, I advise you to drop what you are doing and start – right now!

The Winner’s Trilogy is one of the most vividly lush fantasies I’ve read in a long time, and takes a special spot in my reader’s heart. The Winner’s Kiss is just as thrilling as the other two books in the series, and picks right up from the devastating ending that was The Winner’s Crime.

Marie Rutkoski (@marierutkoski) | Twitter:

For someone who has always struggled with fantasy – and third person point of views – this series has just blown me away from Book One. Rutkoski has such a talent with weaving beautiful prose into an action packed storyline that leaves you breathless with every moment. For most of The Winner’s Kiss I was on the edge of my seat, breath held, wondering what could possibly happen next – and how it could all be wrapped up, leaving no stone unturned. Everything about The Winner’s Kiss was fast paced and filled with action.

As usual, the characters – every single one of them, from Arin and Kestrel to the Emperor and Kestrel’s father – were amazing. The comic relief that Roshar provided wasn’t over the top, and like I said in my review of The Winner’s Crime, the bromance between Roshar and Arin was probably one of the highlights. Arin and Kestrel – oh man, I can’t help but gush over them. Fictional Couple Award of 2016 right there. All their trials weren’t for naught, and I loved how even in the last book – right up to the last page – they were still growing, their strengths and weaknesses working around each other. What a perfect romance.

The Winner's Kiss:

So basically, if you want to be emotionally wrecked from start to finish, then read this series. Because I can guarantee you (no money back!) you’ll fall in love just as much as I – and so many others – have done.

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Blog Tour: True Born by L.E. Sterling

Posted May 24, 2016 by Hannah in Blog Tours, Reviews, Young Adult / 1 Comment

Blog Tour: True Born by L.E. Sterling

Blog Tour: True Born by L.E. SterlingTrue Born by L.E. Sterling
Published by Entangled Teen on 3rd May 2016
Pages: 304
Format: E-ARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Your fate is in your blood…

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic leader, Nolan Storm, and the beautiful but deadly Jared, who tempts her as much as he infuriates her. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

True Born tells the story of Lucy, a twin nearing her eighteenth birthday in the dystopian city of Dominion, where plague has wiped out most of the human world and genetics have wreaked havoc on the population, dividing the city into Splicers, Lasters and True Borns.

I love genre mashups, and True Born was a blend of dystopia and scifi, delving into the idea of what would happen if a plague created a genetic mutation that determined the fate of the rest of your life. The storytelling was fast paced and full of action, keeping you going the entire nove. As the first in the series, True Born does a good job of setting up what is to come, and despite the world building being a little confusing to begin with, soon fell into a good rhythm. I did find the terminology to be a bit confusing at times and a little rushed  without out too much explanations, but once you got your head around it all, it was easy enough to follow. However what I loved was that the author has been able to create a world beyond Dominion and introduces new settings that’ll be explored in the next book. You don’t feel like Dominion is isolated at all.

Lucy was a great character – strong yet vulnerable without being too reliant on the people around her, particularly the love interest. I do love the “hate to love” trope, though at times it seemed a little bit too instalove. The relationship between Lucy and her twin, Margot, was perfect, and you got a real sense of how they were connected.

True Born  was definitely an interesting read, and the next book looks set to be a ripper if the events of the first are anything to go by. With enough questions left unanswered, I’m definitely curious to read the next book in the trilogy!

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About the ALE-Sterlinguthor
L.E. Sterling had an early obsession with sci-fi, fantasy and romance to which she remained faithful even through an M.A. in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature – where she completed a thesis on magical representation. She is the author of two previous novels, the cult hit Y/A novel The Originals (under pen name L.E. Vollick), dubbed “the Catcher in the Rye of a new generation” by one reviewer, and the urban fantasy Pluto’s Gate.

Originally hailing from Parry Sound, Ontario, L.E. spent most of her summers roaming across Canada in a van with her father, a hippie musician, her brothers and an occasional stray mutt – inspiring her writing career. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

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The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier

Posted May 12, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 2 Comments

The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie FornasierThe Things I Didn't Say by Kylie Fornasier
Published by Penguin Teen Australia on 1st May 2016
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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I hate the label Selective Mutism - as if I choose not to speak, like a child who refuses to eat broccoli. I've used up every dandelion wish since I was ten wishing for the power to speak whenever I want to. I'm starting to wonder if there are enough dandelions.

After losing her best friend that night, Piper Rhodes changes schools, determined that her final year will be different. She will be different. Then she meets West: school captain, star soccer player, the boy everyone talks about. Despite her fear of losing everything all over again, Piper falls in love - and West with her - without Piper ever speaking one word to him. But will it last?

When I was growing up, the AussieYA authors that spoke deep to our teenage hearts were John Marsden, Melina Marchetta, Jaclyn Moriarty, Julia Lawrinson and Brigid Lowry (just to name drop a few).

Once again, I feel proud to be an Aussie, because the new generation of amazingly talented #LoveOzYA (and their #LoveNZYA counterparts) authors are creating a name for themselves, and Kylie Fornasier’s debut contemporary is right up there.

Piper lives with Selective Mutism, a condition where she can’t speak unless it’s with her family or trusted loved ones. She finds herself in a completely new environment at a new school after an incident with her best friend leaves her shattered. It’s at her new school she meets West, a charming boy who challenges her to be herself.

What really stood out about The Things I Didn’t Say for me was the reoccurring theme that our words have power. They have the power to hurt, to destroy and to shatter just as much as they have to build up and encourage and to praise. For Piper, living with Selective Mutism means she can’t always express what it is she wants to say. Sadly, our world is not as understanding as it should be, and Fornasier touches on the impact and importance of our words. I loved the way that Piper wasn’t confined to her Selective Mutism, and really tried her hardest to break the mould and not be defined by her inability to speak around others.

Another fantastic part of The Things We Didn’t Say was Piper’s family. HER FAMILY! I loved them. They were an amazing dynamic of unique characters that made up the people she loved the most, a rarity in young adult novels these days. Each was an important part in Piper’s character arc and growth, and it was wonderful to see a family that genuinely loves and supports each other the way hers did.

This is a novel to read if you’re feeling sad or alone. It’s a novel to read if you’ve ever felt hurt by someone’s words, or made to feel anything less than you should be by people’s actions. It’s about coming to terms with who you are and embracing that – and in the end what you get is a truly beautiful story.

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