Chasing Infinite Horizons in Yellow

Posted May 11, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Chasing Infinite Horizons in YellowYellow by Megan Jacobson
Published by Penguin Teen Australia on 1st February 2016
Pages: 259
Format: Paperback
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If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn't bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She'll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn't haunt her. Things aren't so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.

Yellow was, for me, a complete surprise of a novel. I hadn’t expected to read it just yet, but fellow blogger friend Tanieka from Young Adult At Heart had been raving about it, and after meeting Megan at the #YASquad2016 tour, I decided I needed a fresh new contemporary to read.

And I got it.

There’s so much about this book that I feel just resonates with the heart of what it’s like to be a teenager at a delicate point in life. As readers, our focuses tend to shift as we grow older in terms of what we read. While Young Adult definitely still takes precedence on my shelf, I’ve exposed myself to other genres of fiction, and I’ve found myself gravitating away from narrators who are younger than a certain age because I feel like I can’t connect with them on a certain level.

Yellow knocks that out of the ball park, and Jacobson has this really uncanny way of describing what high school life is like that the trip down memory lane was not quite what I was expecting. I so wish this book was available to me in Year Nine, as it probably would have changed a lot of the way I viewed the world at that age – and I believe it has the impact to empower our teens today.

Kirra comes from a not-so-great world where opportunities aren’t exactly knocking on her door. At 14, she’s burdened with the responsibility of her alcoholic mother while trying to get a worthy education and fit in with her peers at school.

While I wasn’t sold on the “supernatural” aspect of the novel, Boogie, the ghost Kirra communicates with. For most of the book it was all a bit misplaced, however I loved how Jacobson was able to reinforce the idea that it is up to you – and you alone – to shape who you are.

I honestly can’t wait to see what Jacobson comes up with next, because Yellow was such a powerful debut, with a message that goes beyond the idea of self-worth and touches on every day young adult problems such as bullying and education.

And to that I say, #LoveOzYA is on fire this year.

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Awesome Websites I Love (That Aren’t Book Related*)

Posted May 10, 2016 by Hannah in Features, Top Ten Tuesdays / 5 Comments

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Apparently choosing ten websites I visit often that aren’t book related in any way is harder than I thought. Hence the asterisk, because more often than not, there is something book related on said site, but that doesn’t mean it’s total content is completely books. But here’s a smattering of how I waste spend my time on the world wide web.

PSA – I do not take responsibility taken for any amount of time wasted spent on the below sites – click on the links at your own peril!!

Polkadot Passport

I absolutely love reading travel blogs, and this is possibly my favourite, because Nicola is a seriously talented photographer as well as being incredibly down to earth, and I love hearing all about her tales and adventures across the world. Sometimes I get insanely jealous (which is only natural, I think), but the fact that Nicola has made something of herself is incredible, and she doesn’t have that air of superiority I find in a few travel bloggers.

I love Bustle. It’s a good mixture of articles about current events, the entertainment world without being too gossipy and shallow, and feminist without being “down your throat.”Oh, and there’s a books section too.

I don’t think this one needs any explanation. Hello, Procrastination.

I’ve been reading Back on Pointe for a couple of years now, and love it. As a former dancer myself, I find Lita’s advice and wisdom to be on point (excuse the pun). She combines reposts (her site is Tumblr based) with informative answers to asks, lots of healthy and clean eating recipes all while being down to earth. As someone who is trying to be better at a healthy and fit lifestyle, blogs like these are my saving grace – they’re ordinary people making changes, and sometimes I want to see that rather than the #fitspo posts you find around.

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I’ve only recently discovered Stephie’s lifestyle blog, but I love it. Also being in my twenties, I love hearing her wisdoms and thoughts – and she’s British! Cue all the Britishness. Also she’s into the theatre, so she wins in my book.

Let Us Wanderlust

Another travel blog, but I love this one because of it’s simplicity. It’s not in your face about all the wonderful places that Carly goes to, and because she started blogging to keep people back home up-to-date, so there’s a real personal touch to her travel stories. She also talks about beauty, fashion and other lifestyle tips, which mixes it up a little bit!

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Another travel blog? Shhhh. You love it. I’ve been on Kate’s blog for years, lurking away in the shadows. If you’re single, female, and more likely to travel solo (like me!), then Kate is for you! She’s also incredibly humble and very helpful for those wanting to get into travel blogging. And her trips sound amazing!

Where do you spend your non-bookish time on the web? Is there such a thing? If you have a favourite, let me know in the comments below!

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Don’t Turn Out The Light: The Special Ones by Em Bailey

Posted May 4, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 5 Comments

Don’t Turn Out The Light: The Special Ones by Em BaileyThe Special Ones by Em Bailey
Published by Hardie Grant Egmont on 1st April 2016
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: Won
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"He keeps us here because we're special."

A claustrophobic and irresistible cult book like no other, from the award-winning author of the YA thriller Shift.

Esther is one of the Special Ones – four teens who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? Here, they are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are – all while broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside.

Esther knows he will renew her if she stops being Special. And yet she also knows she's a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, no genuine advice to offer her followers. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance if she wants to survive long enough to escape.

Once upon a time I told myself, “Don’t read Em Bailey novels when it’s past midnight and pitch black outside and the wind is howling and every little shadow makes you jump.”

I’m not a very good listener. I read The Special Ones late at night, and there were lots of things scratching against the trees outside.

Let’s just begin by saying that The Special Ones is incredibly hard to review. There’s so much I want to talk about, but can’t, because SPOILERS, and I don’t want to give anything away. It’s just one of those books you just have to read to understand how spine-tingling creepy it is.

Let’s start with the basics, then. What’s it about?

Esther is one of four who live in an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. They’re known as The Special Ones, seemingly immortal beings who live the “perfect” life and give guidance to those on the outside world. Or at least that’s what He has told them, an unknown person who watches and controls their every move. Because these children are trapped in the house, forced to act out the lives of people that they don’t have any link to – except in looks.

The Special Ones is full of suspenseful, tense moments that will make you want to keep reading, even if it’s really late at night. There’s a lot of thought-provoking moments, especially in relation to online identity and the consequences the anonymity that the internet can afford a person, especially into playing into emotions of young adults and consequently grooming them by pandering to easily read thoughts of being alone and separated from peers. And I think that’s essentially where the creepiness factor gets driven up fifty percent, because it’s a stark reality.

I dropped off a star because while it was everything I wanted, there could have been a bit more. This isn’t a story about answers, so if you like closure, take a deep breath before you wade in. We do get to see into the mind of Him, but it wasn’t nearly enough to get inside the mind of a psychopath and try and understand why He did certain things. I would have loved more, but I guess that’s the same for a lot of books that you enjoy – it’s never enough!

Thrillers – too scary or love them? If you have any recommendations let me know in the comments!

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Five Reasons You’ll Love The Winner’s Crime

Posted April 29, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Five Reasons You’ll Love The Winner’s CrimeThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 12th March 2015
Pages: 406
Format: E-Book, Paperback
Source: Bought
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Lady Kestrel's engagement to Valoria's crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust ...

While Arin fights to keep his country's freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this second book in the breathtaking Winner's trilogy.

Have I told you how much I love this series? No? Then let me sing my love for this trilogy from the highest trees.

The Winner’s Trilogy is sublime. It’s everything a non fantasy reader like myself wants in a fantasy book, with a fantastically crafted and engaging world modelled on Greco-Roman society (the Author’s Note in the back of The Winner’s Curse is a must read for ancient history lovers!) and perfectly flawed characters you can’t help but fall in love with. Every page, every word, leaves you breathless and hanging. I’m not usually one who is a fan of third person point of view, but like her fantasy compatriot, Sarah J Maas, Rutkoski executes it perfectly. So rather than bore you with big words and lengthy paragraphs, here’s five reasons why you’ll love The Winner’s Crime.

  1. Move Over, Romance

So there isn’t really a lack of romance, because the whole trilogy is about the effects of the relationship between Arin and Kestral, but in The Winner’s Crime the romance really takes a step back and focuses more on developing the characters and the world – for obvious reasons you’ll know about if you’ve read The Winner’s Curse. It’s quite refreshing to read a YA novel where the romance isn’t the centre focus of the story. And if you think that the ending of Book One would lead to a love triangle, you’re totally safe.

  1. Political Intrigue, Betrayals, Murder, Oh My!

I love books where everyone is betraying everyone. A bit weird, I know, but I think it makes for better plot twists. The Winner’s Crime is just full of it. There’s so much tension, with the threat of war between the Herrani and the Empire and beyond. Political intrigue intensifies as Kestral struggles to make clear of the Emperor’s actions and twisted plots. And that ending. OH THAT ENDING!

  1. The Winner’s Crime Takes You Beyond the Empire

Another reason I love this trilogy so much is because Rutkoski has created such an intriguing fantasy world that one just wishes she had time to explore it all. Sadly, because of plot, we don’t have time to be tourist, but unlike other novels where the world isn’t fully developed enough to make it feel like you’re in an actual place, this trilogy actually takes you beyond the fantasy veil and transports you to into the setting.We get to see past the Empire, where the majority of the action is happening, and see how other nations and kingdoms have been affected by the atrocities that the Empire has wreaked upon the world.

  1. Secondary Characters Aren’t Just Background Noise

I love when secondary characters are more than just their name. Every single one of the secondary characters in this series is totally justified, and I love seeing the different relationships grow and evolve or fray as Kestrel and Arin learn the consequences of their actions around them. It all makes for pretty heady stuff to be honest. And my new favourite? The King of Sass, Rosh. I just love the growing bromance between him and Arin.

  1. Arin & Kestrel’s Growth & Relationship.

I don’t know two people more doomed than these two! Talk about not cutting a break. I love it! One of the things I love about the books is that Kestral is such a different heroine than what we are usually given, and that is completely refreshing. These two are literally the opposite sides of the same coin, and it’s interesting to watch (read?) them learn and grow within their actions, and how the different circumstances of their birth have led to those actions. And of course who can’t deny that that slow burn chemistry between the two of them is just sizzling?

Have you read The Winner’s Crime yet? Let me know what you think in the comments, and stay tuned for my review of the final book in one of my favourite fantasy series!

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Ten Brilliant Bookstagrammers I Love To Stalk

Posted April 5, 2016 by Hannah in Features, Top Ten Tuesdays / 2 Comments

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I love Bookstagram, but I never have enough time to sit through and properly scroll through my news feed. I’m also a terrible Bookstagrammer, mainly because my phone sucks and I don’t have a proper camera, so my photos are few and far in between. That being said, there are some people on Bookstagram I absolutely adore, and I’m going to share them – and some of their awesomeness – with you today. If you love as much as I do, I highly recommend giving them a follow!

If you haven’t found Cait’s amazing instagram yet, then I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Cait gives me total photo envy – every one of her photos are perfection, and on top of that she’s completely amazing and down to earth (read: she’s a big book nerd at heart, just like the rest of us!) and always seems to say what I’m thinking. Her book collection is on point too!

 

Taneika and I have such a similar taste and thought in books it’s scary! Aside from being a wonderful West Aussie and generally awesome in general, Taneika’s Bookstagram is what got me started. Her photos are divine, and she does it all through her phone camera and they still come out looking absolutely gorgeous! I love hearing what she has to say about books as well, and my TBR pile is always growing from her recommendations!

I absolutely adore Kat’s photos. I don’t know a lot about photography and filters, but I love whatever Kat does with hers. Photos like the one above, where she combines quotes and books are my favourite.

 

Another person who has such a beautiful bookstagram account! I love the softness of Casey’s photos, they’re so gorgeous. And she’s also West Australian, I believe, which is awesome enough!

#celineannajillmarch16 | bookish reflection ✨ i’m reusing a different angle of an old photo (because i failed to take pics once again, whoops 😂). i promise i’ll take some tomorrow… · on another note, i managed to buy 1) a pair of shorts 2) a candle 3) a candle holder 4) a wooden crate, and 5) a mug from @bookwormboutique all in the past day and a half… help i have a shopping problem 😂 (although let’s be real, it’s partially bookstagram’s fault… i bought 4/5 things mostly because i want to take pictures of them 😖 ugh what has my life come to 😂 i should stop spending…. butbutbut AESTHETICS. there’s also that tiny part of my brain that’s just like *books! books! books!* and all of me that’s like *props! candles! mugs! lights!* and i CANT HAVE BOTH BUT I WANT IT ALL IM SO BROKE HELP). · okay wow there was no coherent thought to the caption, but you know what, we’re gonna role with my mini rant/whatever that was (because i’m sure you can all relate 😋) ·

A photo posted by a n n a (@alittlebookworld) on

Talk about stunning! I could stare at Anna’s photos all day. I love the way she uses pastels (especially in this photo!). There’s something feminine and so beautiful about her photos.

 

Ella’s bookstagram is simple but really eye catching. I love the way she uses a white background to make her books really stand out.

Kelly deserves a place on my list for the sheer fact that I have no idea how she manages to get her black and white photos to have that colour pop, and she always does it in such a striking way too!

 

I’ve been following Lisa’s bookstagram for a long time (read: stalking), and I adore her photos. Even though there’s a lot going on in them aside from showcasing the books, she always manages to make them look so beautiful and striking. And I love the way she uses those flowers too!

Emily’s another bookstagrammer who always seems to have the most beautiful flowers on hand! Her photos are so colourful and bright.

 

I love how understated Paula’s photos are. She always has fantastic backgrounds but the main focus is the book, and it’s never over the top too.

Do you have a Bookstagram, or follow someone on Bookstagram that I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Chat: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Posted March 31, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Book Chat: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 3rd July 2014
Pages: 359
Format: E-Book, Paperback
Source: Bought
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Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Reading The Winner’s Curse is like taking a really deep breath before going underwater because you don’t know when you’re going to remerge. The whole entire book is one big constant what if and what now. Even re-reading it for a fourth time, I find myself completely spellbound by this fantasy world – where no magic exists – that Rutkoski has created.

Originally I was going to do a mini review for both Curse and Crime, as I’m about to start reading the final book, Kiss, but I realized I have too many feelings and there was nothing “mini” about my review.

Kel is one of my favourite YA heroines. She’s not like my other badass favourite, Celaena (from Throne of Glass), who uses her fists and crazy ninja skills more often than logic. Kel, on the other hand, is logical. She’s smart and very tactical, and it’s her desire not to spill blood that makes her highly appealing in a world where it seems that to have a strong YA heroine, she has to be a fighter. She’s also not perfect, and we’re reminded of this with her interactions with Arin. Both of them are fighting for what is best for their people, and at whatever cost that may be, which means a lot of self-sacrificing on their part.

And Arin. Arin, be still my heart. You make me swoon but you make me angry too. Fourth time reading and I still feel shocked at the turn of events halfway through. And that, dear reader, is the hallmark of a great book. These two have so much room to grow that I don’t know if my heart can handle it.

The beauty of The Winner’s Curse is that it’s a book of subtlety. There’s no grandiose or over the top reminders that things are about to get real. The romance is understated and slow burning and you’ll find that most of the time you just really, really, really want Arin and Kestral to just hurry up and fecking kiss already, but at the same time, it’s a huge breath of fresh air.

What I also loved was that there was a good mixture of plot and characterisation, so you never felt like as a first book, The Winner’s Curse was an info dump of world building and setting up the next two books. I love that even though it’s a fantasy, there’s not even a hint of magic. It’s really defined a new set of rules for the fantasy genre that will open up the gateways to a whole new set of readers.

Full of unexpectancy, intrigue and the strongest main characters in YA right now, The Winner’s Curse is definitely one for your to-be-read-right-now pile.

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