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
DymocksAmazon USPublisherThe Book Depository
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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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Blog Tour: Vernal by Randi Cooley Wilson

Posted July 2, 2016 by Hannah in Blog Tours, Giveaways / 1 Comment

vernal randi cooley wilsonI’m so excited today to host Randi Cooley Wilson, new adult author of fantasy and paranormal romance! Fantasy is one of my favourite genres right now, and I definitely am keen to explore more new adult fantasy worlds. Randi talks her favourites in this guest post.

First, a little bit about Vernal!

vernalSerena has a bright future etched in stone.
Tristan has a dark past that haunts him.
Together, they have a love that can never be.

Sheltered, and unable to escape her bloodline, Serena St. Michael has spent the last two years training at the Royal Protector Academy. Struggling with a dark past, Tristan Gallagher’s current assignment is to protect a lifetime of secrets. One chance encounter will change everything. Serena must decide if she will follow her heart, forsaking all she’s ever known and risking a future worse than non-existence. Tristan will break every rule to save Serena, even if he can’t keep her. In their world of darkness, one love will ignite an ancient war. When pasts collide with the present, and secrets are revealed, will love be enough? Or will one lie destroy it all?

When you’ve hidden behind a mask for so long, would you reveal yourself for love? Vernal, the first novel in The Royal Protector Academy series is a dangerously exciting and darkly romantic tale that will take your breath away.

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randi

 

Randi Cooley Wilson is a “New Adult” Paranormal/Fantasy and Contemporary Romance author. A resident of Massachusetts, she makes stuff up, devours romance books, drinks lots of wine and coffee, and has a slight addiction to bracelets.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Don’t forget to check out the giveaway below – now take it away Randi!

I am a huge fan of fantasy literature. As an author, one of my favorite things to write and design within a storyline is the actual art of world building. To visually create something from nothing but words and your imagination, that a reader can get lost in, is the epitome of fantasy writing. Personally, I love to be taken on a journey where the lines of realism and escapism blur. I believe that most of us who read, have an innate desire to explore and be driven to a state of awe. We crave transportation out of the day-to-day mundane tasks and activities into a whole other world filled with mystery and adventure. We love to lose ourselves in a good fantasy. Step out of this world and into a new one. Check out my top 5 favorite fantasy worlds!

  1. Forgotten Realm

Dungeons & Dragons fans this is for you. I read somewhere that creators of the game have said that the Forgotten Realm is a place that is connected to Earth, however, most people have forgotten about this ‘other world’. It’s filled with strange topographies, dangerous creatures and powerful gods. All this in a reality where magic and the supernatural are real. Who wouldn’t want to visit this?

  1. Shangri-La by James Hilton

Shangri-La is the mythological kingdom featured in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. It’s described in the book as a mystical, harmonious valley. An earthly paradise or utopia, where everyone is isolated from the outside world, but is happy. Inhabitors of this fantasy world live beyond the normal lifespan and seem almost immortal.

  1. Camelot

I love the legend of King Arthur. In my opinion, it’s one of the most romantic fantasy tales. It contains everything I love in a fantasy story: courts, chivalry, forbidden love, royal obligations, knights, etc. The Arthurian world and realm is one of those fantasy worlds that I simply adore because it blurs the lines between realism and escapism. It’s designed after real cities, but it’s actual location is never revealed.

  1. Asgard

Norse gods portrayed by Chris Hemsworth? Yes, please.  A small planetary body that exists on another dimensional plane. Sign me up! I am a sucker for the fictional realm and capital city within the Marvel Comics universe. Plus, Thor lives there. Enough said.

  1. Middle Earth

J.R.R. Tolkien is the first author to have taken me away to fictional fantasy worlds when I was introduced to Middle Earth, the setting of the epic Lord of the Rings series. I am a sucker for a character struggle, especially when it’s to control the world if you’re angelic, elf, or demonic. Through in dragons and fantasy creatures of all kinds and that is a fantasy world I’d like to visit. Tolkien said it best when referring to Middle Earth, “it’s a different stage of imagination.”

Thanks for stopping by Randi!  For more goodies on the Vernal blog tour, head over to YA Reads for a full schedule!

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Debut Authors Bash: Interview with Tom Crosshill

Posted June 29, 2016 by Hannah in Blog Tours, Giveaways / 4 Comments

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Another day, another Debut Author to add to your growing TBR – which is what we all like best (don’t lie)! Welcome to my interview with Tom Crosshill, whose debut YA novel The Cat King of Havana  releases in September (noooooooo!) through Katherine Tegen Books, and promises to be a delightfully witty contemporary read, and today we chat cats, travel and so much more.

First, a little bit about The Cat King of Havana – don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the bottom of page where you can win an ARC of The Cat King! (US/CAN only).

The Cat King of Havana

Rick Gutierrez is . . . the Cat King of Havana! A cat-video tycoon turned salsa-dancer extraordinaire, he’ll take Cuba by storm, romance the girl of his dreams, and ignite a lolcat revolution!

At least that’s the plan.

It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.

Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.

Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges.

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Q. As someone who has grown up on and written science fiction and fantasy, where did the idea for The Cat King of Havana come from?

What draws me to science fiction & fantasy is the sense of unending possibility. Turn the page and there’s always something new and colorful and exciting to discover.

The thing is, the real world is like that too. There is so much to explore! New lands, new people, new forms of art. It’s why I love traveling and why I love learning new skills.

In the past, I’ve devoted thousands of happy hours to studying the piano, getting a black belt in aikido, learning to act and direct, and other pursuits. A few years ago, on a chance trip to Cuba, I stumbled (quite literally) into salsa dancing. I’ve been obsessed ever since.

When I’m obsessed, I write.

Rick Gutierrez, the protagonist of The Cat King of Havana, is a nerdy cat video tycoon who falls in love with a girl — and, in the same instant, falls in love with salsa. The problem is, he sucks at dancing — he really, really sucks.

It takes a lot of guts and stubbornness to learn a partner dance when dancing with you makes people wince. It takes a lot of guts and stubbornness to learn anything when everyone tells you that you suck.

I know — I’ve lived it. But I’ve also lived through it. In The Cat King of Havana, I wanted to explore this challenging, mortifying, and yet satisfying struggle.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, the Norton Award-winning author of The Summer Prince, captured it best. She said my book deals with “[…]the mortification of being a raw beginner at something you already know you love and already doubt you’ll ever be any good at; the unexpected peace of trying as hard as you can and still not getting what you want (which maybe never mattered anyway)”.  

(Then there’s also cat videos, the Cuban revolution, and romance under the palm trees).

Q. Was writing The Cat King of Havana different in any way from writing your other work? What was the process like?

Every book is different. It feels like you’re learning to write from scratch. But The Cat King of Havana was a lot of fun to work on  — because I was determined to make the book fun. For most scenes in the book, the first thing I looked for was the humor  — me the writer trying to make me the reader chuckle.

On the flipside, days when I wasn’t feeling funny could be hell. There are few things as demoralizing as trying to be funny.

Q.Following on from the above question, what was the most challenging aspect of writing a young adult contemporary novel?

For The Cat King of Havana, research was a particular challenge.

I write these words in Havana, where I’m spending a year studying dance at the Instituto Superior de Arte. I wrote the book while in the US and Europe, however. Cuba is a land just now discovering the internet. The writer’s best friend — Google — was often useless in the face of my queries. Instead, I had to do research the old-fashioned way.

The book’s protagonist Rick Gutierrez explores his mother’s past as a Cuban exile — she left the island on the notorious Mariel boatlift. To accurately portray Rick’s investigation, I did a lot of reading at various libraries. I also drew on the aid of many Cubans — dancers, writers, and other friends — for personal histories, local detail, and help with the finer nuances of Cuban Spanish.

In the end, though, this kind of thorough research proved very satisfying. It grounded the whole writing process — it let me create something real out of words and imagination.

Q.Ricky goes to Cuba and learns how to salsa to impress a girl. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to impress someone?

I suspect that a great deal of what I’ve achieved in life I’ve done with the motive — conscious or not — of impressing a girl. Sometimes I think that, were romance eliminated, the progress of humanity would grind to a standstill. Whether it’s getting in shape, learning to defend yourself, making a lot of money, or getting your salsa on, impressing that special someone is strong motivation.

Craziest thing, though? I once borrowed a friend’s bulky pro camera, chose a fake name, and talked my way into a glitzy Hamptons socialite party. It’s amazing how friendly models and actors become when they think you work for a fashion magazine. (The party was a snore, though, and the girls’ interest evaporated as soon as the camera went away. . . lesson learned).

Q. I love to travel, and I especially love it when books take me to places I’ve never been before. What was it about Cuba that led you to set a book there?

Cuba is an island that seems a utopia one day, a dystopia the next, and somewhere in the middle on your average Tuesday. Between various trips I’ve spent close to a year in Havana, not just dancing salsa and listening to fantastic music, but also riding packed buses, standing in long lines for mundane errands, and enjoying leisurely strolls along the Malecón. I love the island and I have been exasperated by it, and I keep coming back.

At the time when I wrote this book, I wanted to go back to Cuba really badly, but I couldn’t afford to. In a way, I wrote The Cat King of Havana so I could visit the island without spending a dime. Now my readers can as well!

Q. Did you get to watch a lot of cat videos and claim it as research? Any particular favourites we should know about?

Yes — I’m very thorough about research that way. Writing is hard work and I take it seriously. If watch cat videos I must, then watch cat videos I shall.

I was also fortunate to get the advice and input of Jack Shepherd, the Editorial Director and cat video expert at BuzzFeed.

Q. What are five things that you never write without?

Curiosity, patience, stubbornness, faith, and cookies.

Q. What are three words you’d use to describe The Cat King of Havana?
Jetpack kitten bonanza!

Thanks for answering my questions Tom! Aside from me now spending too much time on cat video after cat video, I can’t wait to read The Cat King of Havanaif not for Cuba itself!

Tom Crosshill

Tom Crosshill’s fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award (thrice) as well as the Latvian Annual Literature Award. His stories have appeared in venues such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed. In 2009, he won the Writers of the Future contest. After some years spent in Oregon and New York, he currently lives in his native Latvia. In the past, he has operated a nuclear reactor, translated books and worked in a zinc mine, among other things.

Tom’s young adult novel “The Cat King of Havana” is forthcoming from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins) in 2016.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

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Loved this interview and want to get to know more about the Debut Authors of 2016? Check out the rest of the Bash here, and discover new favourite books! My list has grown exponentially this last month!

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June New Release Giveaway Hop!

Posted June 14, 2016 by Hannah in Giveaways / 31 Comments

Hosted by Shannon at It Starts at Midnight

Welcome to my stop on the June New Release Giveaway Hop!

I love this time of June. Uni exams are almost over, it’s getting colder (but sadly not wetter) and aside from working, all I have to do with my time for the next seven weeks is read books and catch up on TV shows I’ve had to put on hold since the start of the year.

I’ll be giving away one (1) new release from the month of June up to AUD$30 (because generally this is the price of a hardback). It can be from any demographic or genre, but it has to be released this month. I’ll be checking! This can be a paperback or hardback, as long as The Book Depository ships to you. If you’re not sure, check here.

What awesome books are being released in the YA world this month? Shannon provided this amazing graphic – what are you looking forward to? And I Darken by Kiersten White, a new Megan Miranda and historical Gossip Girl with My Lady Jane!

June

If you’re done salivating over all the choices you have to make if you win, enter via the Rafflecopter below. Entries close June 30, 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Time (US)

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Don’t forget to skip on over to the other blogs for more chances to win!


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