Month: August 2016

Love, Lies and Spies, Oh My!

Posted August 19, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Love, Lies and Spies, Oh My!Love, Lies & Spies by Cindy Antsey
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on 19th April 2016
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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Goodreads

Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

There are definitely not enough YA Historical Romances in my life!

Love, Lies & Spies is the quirky tale of budding romance and daring intrigue all set against the lush background of Regency England. Julianna would rather be studying lady beetles with her father & working on research that could give them accolades throughout the scientific world, despite it earning her the title of “bluestocking” amongst her peers. When an upcoming trip to London gives Julianna the perfect opportunity to sneakily find a publishing house for her research, she agrees to a Season with her cousin.

Love, Lies & Spies opens beautifully with our heroine dangling off a cliff, and the appearance of our hero, Spencer, who with the help of his friend rescues her. From the first page, Anstey held my attention with quick witted prose and hilarious banter between the characters.

While definitely a lot ‘tamer’ in the romance department than the adult historical romances that I’m guilty of loving, you can’t help but love every interaction between Spencer and Julianna. Spencer, eager to prove his worth with the War Office, was a little dense at times in a very Henry Tilney kind of way that made me fall in love with him a little bit more each time. I also loved that Julianna’s love for science didn’t overtake the story, but her passion for her work was present on every page.

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s work, especially Northanger Abbey, then pick up this adorable light read with the most gorgeous of covers!

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Take Me to Paradise: Paradise Road by CJ Duggan

Posted August 18, 2016 by Hannah in New Adult, Reviews / 1 Comment

Take Me to Paradise: Paradise Road by CJ DugganParadise Road by C.J. Duggan
Published by Hachette Australia on 22nd November 2015
Pages: 306
Format: E-ARC, E-Book
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Goodreads

The Road to Paradise is never easy

After a year on the coast, Lexie Atkinson can't settle back into country life. She’s missing the glitzy, gritty nightlife of the big city and the group of misfit friends she’d loved to hate. She knows to move forward she has to go back – back to face the guy who stole her heart.

But when Lexie arrives in Paradise City to work out if her future includes bad-boy surfer, Luke Ballantine, he is nowhere to be found.

With no home, no money and no Luke, Lexie gets a job slinging drinks at the wild Wipe Out Bar. Soon her heartache is eased when broody bar owner, Dean Saville, starts taking an interest and stirs more than just her drinks. But nothing is ever as it seems in Paradise City and when Luke barrels back into town, Lexie has a choice to make. But who will end up with the broken heart: Luke, Dean … or Lexie?

Reading funks suck, but they exist. And when I fall into one (which is approximately 3 out of 4 weeks in a month), there’s certain authors I love to turn to. They’re my comfort food – the pizza and the chocolate of the literary world.

I’ve never been very good with contemporaries – I’m more of a speculative fiction type of girl –  but there’s something about the way that CJ writes that pulls me into the worlds she creates. There’s that familiarity of the Aussie lifestyle that she can capture, whether it’s the 90s or today. If the Paradise duology were a song, it’d be Thirsty Merc’s In The Summer Time.

Paradise Road takes us back to where it all began and ended, picking up on a high note that lasts the whole book. While a quicker read than the first, Paradise Road is a ride that I never wanted to end – specifically because, well, I always preferred Dean Saville, and it was his time to shine.

Lexie had more of a chance to grow in Road – gone (for the most part) was the girl of City who was whiney and intolerable. At the start of Road, Lexie is dealing with the fallout of what happened in City – with Ballantine gone and not talking to her, and then her parents dropping the bomb that she may not be able to go back to Paradise. Instead of spending too long moping about it – she decides to prove everyone wrong and land a job and a place to stay.

Ironically, it’s The Wipeout Bar that becomes Lexie’s new home and the focal setting for the book. And as we know from City, The Wipeout Bar is owned by no other than everyone’s favourite brooding boy, Dean Saville. I loved the side of Dean we get to see in Paradise Road. He becomes the centre of the story, and is a real testament to the growth of Lexie. He helps her mature into a young lady, while at the same time pushing past his own prejudices. There were a few times things  were glossed over – like the reason he and Ballantine have never gotten along, but really, at the end of the day, I was just happy to have Dean. Gorgeous, perfectly flawed and tender hearted (but shh don’t tell him that!)

So basically, if you want something sweet with a touch of sexy, something that you can whip through easily on a day, then read this series. In all honesty, you can’t get better than a CJ Duggan novel, because you know it’s going to have that perfect blend of Australian humour and romance that will leave wanting only more.

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Truly, Madly, Deeply Confused About How I Feel

Posted August 15, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Truly, Madly, Deeply Confused About How I FeelTruly, Madly, Deeply by Hannah Jayne
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on 2nd July 2013
Pages: 262
Format: E-ARC, E-Book
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Goodreads

They Said It Was An Accident...

Sawyer Dodd is a star athlete, a straight-A student, and the envy of every other girl who wants to date Kevin Anderson. When Kevin dies in a tragic car crash, Sawyer is stunned. Then she opens her locker to find a note:

You're welcome.

Someone saw what he did to her. Someone knows that Sawyer and Kevin weren't the perfect couple they seemed to be. And that someone—a killer—is now shadowing Sawyer's every move...

I don’t know about you, but sometimes there’s nothing better than curling up with a book at night which is going to freak you out. Not in the horror sense, but in that psychological way that has you on edge and questioning everything.

Just like Truly, Madly, Deeply. I will admit, the first time I read this back in 2013, I really enjoyed it. I never guessed the plot twists, I was sufficiently creeped out by Sawyer’s house in the middle of nowhere and all the random things that kept happening to her, and I was rooting for her when no-one would take her seriously.

However upon reading it again, my thoughts and views are somewhat changed – is it to do with the fact that I’m a lot more cynical in my old age now, or is it that before, I looked past the obvious flaws in the characters and this time around they irritated me to no end?

Truly, Madly, Deeply was a quick read, so it’s an easy enough novel to get through. There’s a lot of suspense and emphasis on shadows and creepiness associated with being alone in a brand new house in the middle of nowhere. It had an aura around it of a Supernatural episode, where the colour scheme would be dark, haunting woods and dreary, wet weather.

However that’s where the positives end. The characters are highly undeveloped, the serious undertones of bullying and domestic violence are barely addressed, which, especially in this day and age, should be the most important theme of the novel and be well structured to portray the message that bullying and violence is not okay. Instead, the main bully escapes being made aware of her wrong doings (granted, there’s a pretty big spoiler in there as to why, but you’ll have to read it to find out more). The abusive boyfriend is all but forgotten by the climax of the novel, all in favour of someone new who the main characters gets hot and heavy with on multiple occasions.

The characters themselves were possibly the worst aspect of the book. Any adults present were one dimensional and ignorant, something I have a hard time believing that none of them believed Sawyer on certain points. Sawyer herself is a wispy, brooding teenager whose sullenness could rival Bella Swan’s. The secondary characters, like the adults, only serve the purpose of giving you that sense of foreboding and creepiness in Sawyer’s life, which, to an extent worked, but I wanted more. More of everything, and that’s where this read fell flat.

All being said, if you’re looking for a thriller that isn’t too heavy, I’d definitely recommend Truly, Madly, Deeply. Once you get past the plot inconsistencies, there’s a fun pyscho-thriller waiting to be devoured in one go.

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#LoveOzYA Blog Hop

Posted August 14, 2016 by Hannah in Features / 8 Comments

It’s no secret that Aussie and Kiwi YA authors are absolutely amazing. They are the pioneers of Young Adult Fiction in Australia, New Zealand and the world beyond. They’ve paved the way for the new generation of AUNZYA authors, as every bit relevant in today’s society as they were twenty years ago, when they were changing the face of literature. Which is why I decided to be part of the Aussie YA Blog Hop, hosted by the girls from Happy Indulgence Books, Joy from Thoughts by J, Emily from Loony Literate, Genie from Genie in an Book and Aimee from My Life in Books, to tell you why I love Aussie YA Lit and to hopefully give you some new books to read! Because let’s face it, we all love new books and high TBRs.

 

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There’s a rawness about Aussie YA that you don’t find in other young adult. Maybe it’s because the contemporaries speak straight to our hearts, or that the language our fantasy writers resonates so much with our own, there’s something inexplicably wonderful about opening a book that’s written by someone who knows you, who identifies with your cultural values and morals and even pushes you to test your own boundaries – all of which Aussie YA does. Being able to relate to a text is the most wonderful feeling a reader can have – and that’s what makes Aussie YA so iconic.

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A photo posted by Hannah (@hannahplusone) on

Yes, I am sitting next to the amazing John Marsden! Excuse me while I freak out (and pardon the squinty eyes from the cold morning sun, Straya, right?)

Other great authors I love include Melina Marchetta, Jaclyn Moriarty and Paula Weston amongst others.

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Ten #LoveOzYA Books by West Australian Authors

Posted August 9, 2016 by Hannah in Features, Top Ten Tuesdays / 2 Comments

top ten tuesdays

Today I’m playing around with the Top Ten prompt (Rewind) and creating a list of ten books written by West Australian authors you should seriously add to your TBR. #LoveOzYA is growing every single day, and it’s fantastic to see so many new and upcoming names. Sometimes though, I feel that I tend to miss all the wonderful that comes out of my own home state (especially now that I’m in the East).

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Carousel by Brendan Ritchie //  I actually haven’t read this one yet, but it’s set in a shopping centre I used to frequent (a lot), until the guys at Dymocks got angry at me rearranging their shelves (do it right or give me a job pls). So to be able to actually visualise the setting will be so amazing – a sense of something you don’t really get when you’re reading books set in fantasy worlds or other countries and having to visualise something that is more of a distorted reality.

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay // Okay, so if we are getting technical, Meg is a WA transplant, but because she’s clearly an amazing person, she has decided to call Western Australia home (great choice, Meg). That and her children’s books are some of my all time favourites (Ten Tiny Things you guys!)

Crashing Down by Kate McCaffrey // I love Kate McCaffrey. Her books are so raw and realistic, it’s hard not to be impressed with the way she deals with grisly subject matters that affect teenagers today.

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Zac & Mia by AJ Betts // Name drop, but I was lucky to take a Children’s Lit class with AJ! It was such a great class, and hearing the process of writing Zac & Mia was amazing! Such a heartfelt read, it was one of my favourite books of 2013.

Waer by Meg Caddy // Another local author who I haven’t read (yet), but I’ve heard many wonderful things about Waer, it’s hard not to recommend it! Meg stands out as a #LoveOzYA author who is pushing that contemporary boundary a lot of our authors are known for, which I love!

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A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell // Dianne is another author that takes heavy subject matter and twists it into a really beautiful and well crafted story.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey // Another novel I haven’t read personally, but you just need to look at the long list of awards Silvey has won for Jasper Jones to know what a great coming of age tale it is. And it’s required reading in a lot of WA high schools now – you know you’ve made it then!

Have You Seen Ally McQueen? by Deb Fitzpatrick // Like CarouselHave You Seen Ally McQueen? is set in a coastal town in WA, and is full of all the Aussie-ness that I love and grew up with.

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Captivate by Vanessa Garden // Mermaids! I really enjoyed this light, fantasy-esque underwater world that Vanessa has created. And what’s even better is that it’s also set off the WA coast! Yay for the Indian Ocean!

Preloved by Shirley Marr // Preloved has this great yesteryear vibe about it, so it’s not hard to see why so many people say it’s amongst their favourites. A dash of supernatural added in, and this is one charming book.

Have you read any of the above? Any favourite West Australian authors I should know about?

Chat to me in the comments below!

 

 

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