Love And Misadventure

Tags

, , , , , , ,

“Love and Misadventure” by Lang Leav

loveandmisadventureSo, I have to confess that I’m one of those people who spends an obscene amount of time on Tumblr. I suppose if you think about it, it’s quite a pointless website. Essentially all you’re doing is scrolling endlessly, looking at gifs and pictures – occasionally reblogging one every now and then, before continuing to scroll down until you get to the last point where you stopped scrolling.

The thing about Tumblr though, is that it helps me discover new passions, and this book just so happened to be one of them! I’m a very analytical person, and I’m fascinated with how the mind words. I love finding quotes from various books that I’ve never read, but that seem to describe my life perfectly. One day when I was at home sick, I stumbled upon one of Lang’s poems which absolutely resonated in me, and I thought “I have to read this book.”

I’d heard many good things about it from a friend of mine who had just finished reading this book, and while I was putting in an order for my brother’s Christmas present at Book Depository, I just happened to slip this into my cart as well.

Firstly, I must say that even though I majored in Creative Writing at University, I bombed out of my poetry unit, so I’m not going to critically analyse the writing style of this book. What I AM going to do though, is tell you in my own jumbled language why this book struck a chord with me. Maybe those who can’t write poetry are blessed in a way … We get to enjoy it for what it really is – Words on a page which align themselves perfectly to create a window into our souls.

(How poetic of me. That’s all you’re getting though!)

Ok, so onto the book itself. It’s only a small book, so if you’re super keen like I am, you can finish it in an hour or so. The book is broken up into two parts and features some stunning art at the start of each section by Lang herself.

What I love about the poems is that they are short, and right to the point, yet you can still get imagery out of them. I love how the language in each poem is so straight forward too, so that the reader is able to interpret the poem to their own likings.

The reason why I failed my poetry unit, was because the poems we were meant to study were horribly cryptic, and although I’m sure they were brilliant, they just didn’t do anything for me except frustrate me. I didn’t want to have to decipher every poem before I could understand it to enjoy it.

That’s why I loved every page of Lang’s book. Each poem was still descriptive, and I really enjoyed the way it prompted me to think about certain things and situations in my life. I was able to relate to a lot of the poems – perhaps that’s why this book resonated so well with me. And, just when you’ve read enough of the poems, or your eyes need a break from the structure, the book is broken up with a page of text with a line down the bottom that just hits you.

My favourite poem in the book was the one I originally found on Tumblr – It’s in the second section of the book, and titled Souls.

“Can I ask you something?”
“Anything.”
“Why is every time we say goodnight, it feels like goodbye?”

Wow. Talk about summing up my life situation in that poem!

Even if you’re not a huge poetry fan, I encourage you to read this book. Sometimes it’s good to mix it up a little bit and add different genres to your reading repertoire. If nothing else, go on Tumblr, or Google Image, search for Lang Leav, and just read some of the beautiful pieces that she’s written. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall rating: 4/5

Advertisements

Before I Fall

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

“Before I fall” by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall

Remember when I said I was reading this book in one of my last Youtube videos? Well, I ended up forfeiting sleep until 2am in order to finish this book, because I became so engrossed in the story that I actually thought it would keep happening without me. Have you ever read a book like that? Wow! What a journey!

Samantha Kingston is living the ideal life: She has the perfect group of friends, the perfect boyfriend, popularity, and good looks. Sam’s world revolves around her, and she is perfectly OK with that. Things start to get a little unusual though when coming home from a party one night, she is killed in a car accident. The catch? She wakes up again the next morning …

Convinced it was merely a bad dream, Sam brushes off the annoying sense of Deja Vu that follows her everywhere that day, and continues on with life as normal, until the same thing happens again that evening after the party. And the day after that. And the day after that …

Sam relives the last day of her life seven times, and as each day passes she learns that her perfect life is not so perfect, that her friends are concealing some important secrets, and that the people in her life that she invests the least time in, perhaps deserve more.

So, I guess this book is the Young Adult version of Groundhog’s Day that had Bill Murray in it. Now, I loved that movie which is why I decided to go and read this book. The book, however, has stuck with me longer than the movie. It’s been about a week now since I finished it, and I still can’t get over the ending! I’m not going to spoil it for you guys because I seriously think that this book is worth the read. I know it presents itself as your typical “popular girl has an accident and reevaluates her life” story, but I love the twists and the secrets that are woven into this book.

It reminds me a lot of the John Marsden “choose your own adventure” or “Pick a path” novels, which were a big favourite of mine, and we get to see how one simple decision from Sam influences not only events in her lives, but in those around her too; her friends, her classmates, people she has literally spoken to once.

And there’s that one girl in the novel, Juliet, whose life hangs in the balance … The way Juliet’s story is woven into, and connected to Sam’s is incredible.

I adored this book – I’m so glad that I purchased this and that it’s a part of my collection now. I’d love to go back and read it when I’m not focused on getting to the end at ridiculous hours of the morning! I think that upon reading it a second, or third time, I’d probably pick up on a great deal more information that I did the first time round. And the ending … Oh goodness … The ending!

Read it, guys. It’s awesome!

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Matched

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

“Matched” by Ally Condie

matched

When John Green recommends a book, you know it’s going to be good! I was watching a Vlogbrothers video on Youtube lately (and by lately, I mean “four months ago”) and in one of John’s videos around February, he was talking about “if you liked this book, you’ll like ….” and Matched popped up.

I wrote it down, and forgot about it until my Mum stumbled across it when we were in the Library trying to find Gone With The Wind (which I found, but never read. Whoops!). Naturally, I got excited, added it to the huge pile of books I was already checking out that day, and proceeded to read it first! The result? MORE PLEASE!

Cassia lives in a world where the Society makes all of life’s decisions for her: What to wear, what to eat, how much to eat, who to spend the rest of her life with, and even how and when she will die. Cassia had always trusted Society to make these decisions, and never doubted them for a second. That is, until something unusual happens …

At her Matching Ball, she is Matched with her best friend, Xander. Cassia is more than happy to be matched with someone she already knows and trusts, but when she goes to look at the chip with all of Xander’s information on it, it is not his face that appears before her. It is that of Ky Markham’s, which flashes before her eyes for a split second before showing Xander’s familiar face.

Society claimed it was a glitch, but then say later that it was planned. Either way, something isn’t adding up, and Cassia learns that perhaps the Society isn’t making the best decisions after all. She falls in love with Ky, who shows her a world which she never knew, and suddenly Cassia questions how much she can trust Society, and whether they really have everyone’s best interests at heart  …

I was about three chapters into Matched before I decided I was in love with this novel. I found it captivating to read, and thankfully I read it over the long weekend where I had time to curl up in bed and read most of it in three days! It’s easy to get sucked into this novel. You sit there, and wonder how people in Cassia’s world simply believe everything they are fed by Society, and how they can live in such a heavily controlled and regulated world.

Of course, this means that somewhere along the track there’s going to be a rebellion. And, naturally, it starts in Cassia’s family. Not with her to start with, but with her Grandfather, who gives her some forbidden poetry.

From there, Cassia discovers that there’s a whole different kind of world that she’s been sheltered from, and when she falls in love with Ky, she begins to question everything that Society has taught her. I got sucked in thinking “Don’t fall in love with Ky! You’re matched with Xander! Stay away from Ky!” which is exactly what I was supposed to think; That’s what Cassia was trained to think too, right?

And from there, this incredibly story unfurls about how things are not what they seem, and how it’s really up to us to look beyond what we’re given in order to find ourselves, and our path in life. (That’s how I took it anyway!)

It’s a brilliant read, and the best news is that there’s TWO more books in the series! That’s right people, TWO MORE BOOKS! I’ll be reading and reviewing them, for sure, but right now I have to wait for them to come in the mail. (You can’t change my mind about snail mail guys – Sorry!). I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the Hunger Games series – It’s quite similar as it’s set in a Distopian world, there’s some hearty rebellion and it’s equally as enthralling. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this series got turned into movies or a TV series in the future.

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST, PEOPLE!!! 🙂

Overall Rating: 4/5

The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Nigh-Time

Tags

, , , , , , ,

“The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time” – Mark Haddon

ciotditn

I have an impressive list of books that I have to read, and the other day I put in a MASSIVE order from Book Depository, and now I have an impressive pile of books that are stacked precariously on top my guitar amp, screaming “Read me! Read me!”.

This was the first book on the top of the pile. I’d wanted to read it since it was mentioned in a lecture at uni, and I thought it would be something a little bit different to the type of books that I would normally read. I was right!

The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time is a murder mystery with a bit of a twist. Our protagonist, Christopher, is a fifteen year old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, who happens upon the corpse of his neighbour’s beloved canine one evening.  Christopher doesn’t like the colour yellow, but likes to make lists and knows what kind of day it will be based off what colour cars he sees walking to school. Although he is not great when it comes to interacting with other people, Christopher is brilliant when it comes to Mathematics, puzzles and patterns, and he wants to solve the mystery of who murdered his neighbour’s dog.

Murdered by what looks like a garden tool, Christopher embarks on a quest to find out who the culprit is, questioning people on his street, which then provides him with information that takes him on a journey he’d never imagined. Along the way, he discovers much more than just who murdered his neighbour’s dog. Christopher finds out that certain events in his life are not as they seem, turning his whole life upside down and making him question everything he’s ever known.

The way that this novel is written captures life with Asperger’s Syndrome perfectly. All the chapters are numbered as Prime numbers, rather than the traditional numerical system. It’s also filled with what seems like tangents at the start of the book, where Christopher explains why he likes prime numbers, or explains a mathematical concept. Upon second reading of this book, you are able to see how all of these “tangents” tie into the other half of the story, which is Christopher’s self discovery.

The book itself is easy enough to read. The chapters are short, and the language used is straight forward and perfect for Christopher’s voice. It’s also full of diagrams, and graphs which help to keep the story interesting too. I confess some of the mathematical chapters went right over my head because I am in no way a mathematician! In fact, I am TERRIBLE at maths, and avoid it whenever possible, but it was great that Haddon threw this into the novel, because as a read you’re able to understand why the adult characters find it so difficult to understand and communicate with Christopher.

If you know someone with Asperger’s Syndrome (which I do – My BFF!) then a lot of things in the novel “make sense” and help you to understand the condition better. Even if you’re not familiar with Asperger’s Syndrome though, you don’t miss the vital information – Christopher explains everything! Something I really like was Christopher explaining how he doesn’t like to be touched, and rather than be hugged, his family says “I love you” physically by pressing their hands together, rather than embracing. It touching to see how lives are adapted with Asperger’s Syndrome, and I honestly feel like I understand it a bit more now!

I really enjoyed this book, especially as it’s not a genre I’d normally read. I can now tick that one off the list, and move on to the rest of the pile!

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

AWOL

Hey guys!

So, I apologise for being AWOL recently. I’ve just returned from being overseas for a few weeks in Singapore and Cambodia, and I’ve also been making a start on trying (operative word) to get my book published!

What does this mean for you? Well, my trip overseas gave me oodles of time to sit and read loads of books, so I’ll have more reviews coming your way ASAP! So keep checking back and hopefully I’ll review something that might be of interest to you 🙂

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Tags

, , , , ,

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” – John Green and David Levithan

Ok, so by now it’s probably no secret that I’m an avid John Green Fan. Since I finished reading The Fault in Our Stars, and Looking For Alaska, I decided to continue working my way through John Green’s back catalog and see what other gems I’ve missed out on in my semi-sheltered life.

The most recent John Green novel that I read was Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which I was terribly excited about. Not just because it was a John Green novel, but because it was a John Green and David Levithan novel. Unbeknownst to me, my two favourite Young Adult Fiction authors had teamed up and created this little piece of writing.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about two boys named (yep, you guessed it) Will Grayson. Despite sharing the same name, both boys are completely different from one another; almost polar opposites. By coincidence, they happen to meet each other in a rather awkward situation whilst both in Chicago. From that night on their lives slowly begin to intertwine thanks to Tiny Cooper and his biggest Musical ever! What one Will lacks, the other provides and as the story progresses we begin to see that perhaps the two Will Graysons are not as different as we originally thought.

This book is largely focused on teenage homosexuality, and all the drama that comes along with being a young gay male in this current day and age. While one Will Grayson is gay, the other is straight but they each have their own trials and tribulations to deal with when it comes to their respective love lives. When Tiny Cooper becomes the meat in a Will Grayson sandwich, things start to get complicated for everyone. Tiny and both Will Graysons learn that there’s a very fine line when it comes to balancing relationships and friendships and that when one side of the line flourishes, the other tends to diminish.

I didn’t get into this book as much as I hoped I would. I still enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t grab my attention as much as other John Green and David Levithan novels had. I might also add that this has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter – I am not a homophobic person, so that aspect of the story didn’t affect me at all. It was more the fact that the story was focused around Tiny Cooper rather than the Will Graysons. I would have loved to explore their respective characters more closely and get to know a bit more about their lives, rather than have the majority of the novel focused on Tiny’s musical.

I understand that Tiny is the character than connects the otherwise separate Will Graysons, but I wanted their accidental meeting to result in a bit more than a brief romantic encounter and yet another heartbreak. I wanted both Will Graysons to learn something from each other’s lives, rather than communicate through a series of awkward online chat conversations and the occasional (and desperate) phone call. Tiny Cooper is a BIG character in terms of personality, and I feel as though his personality kind of overshadowed both Will Graysons. Whether or not that was I conscious decision by the authors, I know not.

One of my favourite quotes from this novel though was this: “When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost – the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.”

Perhaps this novel will grow on me if I take the time to read it a second and third time like I did with other John Green and David Levithan novels. Until then though, I’ll keep my rating as below:

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Looking For Alaska

Tags

, , , , , , ,

“Looking For Alaska” – John Green

After reading The Fault in Our Stars, I very quickly became quite a big fan of John Green. Most of you will know this by now, but after I finished TFiOS, I really felt as though I should read some of John Green’s other novels. What better book to start off with than Looking For Alaska.

I’d heard plenty of good things about it from people who have read this novel and not to mention my Tumblr dashboard is usually plastered with quotes from this book. (“If people were rain, then I was drizzle and she was a hurricane”) So, I quickly purchased a copy (something I rarely do without reading it first) and got myself comfortable.

Looking For Alaska is a story about a young boy, Miles Halter, who has a large fascination with people’s last words. He leaves his mundane life at home, and heads to boarding school where he hopes to find his “Great Perhaps.” Upon his arrival, Miles is subjected to unbearable hot weather and makes the acquaintance of his strange room mate, The Colonel. Suddenly Miles isn’t really sure that his “Great Perhaps” lies within the walls of his new school and home.

What he does find however, is Alaska Young. Sexy, smart, funny and edgy, Miles is hopelessly attracted to her despite the fact that she has a boyfriend. Alaska brings Miles into her group of friends, and exposes him to a life which he never had back at home. For a short while, Miles is happy with his situation in life – he may never have Alaska the way he would like, but he’s content to spend time with her in her room with the Colonel, smoking cigarettes and talking about life in general.

When tragedy strikes, Miles and The Colonel struggle to accept that they have lost one of their numbers; perhaps the most prominent of their group. They try to determine the thoughts and actions that lead to their friends death, and discover a whole new side to their friends (past and present) along the way.

It’s difficult to talk about the plot without giving away too many spoilers, so forgive my rather succinct synopsis. The book is divided into two sections, which essentially break down into a “before” and “after”. It’s a gripping tale with some great plot twists, and I ended up finishing this book in a couple of days because I simply couldn’t put it down.

Like all John Green novels, I shed a tear reading this, which is a sign of bloody good writing! Most John Green novels, I have noticed, save the best part of the novel until the very end. Like The Fault in Our Stars, this novel did the same thing. That’s what I really enjoy about John Green’s novels though – once you finish the book, the story doesn’t really end. It gives the reader plenty of food for thought, and when you close the back cover, you sit there thinking “Wow.” – To me, that’s why I read books, and that’s why I’m such a huge John Green fan now.

I admit that I didn’t like Looking For Alaskaquite as much as The Fault in Our Stars, but then again the latter did set an impossibly high bench mark for all other unread John Green novels to live up to. But each novel has it’s own positive attributes, and I really did enjoy reading this novel just as much as TFiOS.

Evidently, I’m on a bit of a John Green bender right now, so chances are that you can probably expect more reviews of his books to grace your computer screens in the near future!

Overall rating: 4/5

Dragonclaw

Tags

, , , , , ,

“Dragonclaw” by Kate Forsyth

Have you every been friends with someone who has a knack of picking out amazing books for you to read? For me, that person is my mother.

Years and years ago, she came home with this book for me and it’s turned out to be such an amazing book (the first in an equally as amazing series) that I come back and re-read it at least once or twice every year. I feel as though it contains everything that a good fantasy novel should: Adventure, drama, mystery, surprise, deceit, suspense and of course, a touch of romance.

The story starts out focusing on the young Isabeau; a cheeky sixteen year old girl who can talk to animals and who lives with the ancient woodwitch Meghan. The land in which they live, Elianan, has outlawed witches and magic since the Day of Reckoning. The punishment for practicing magic is death. Meghan sends Isabeau out on an important quest to take a talisman across the land to another fellow witch. Her journey doesn’t go according to plan, and she is soon caught and tortured for her use of magic.

Whilst all of this is happening, Meghan has her own quest to complete – that being to help the last remaining prince reclaim the throne. Along the way, Meghan meets up with a young girl named Khan’derin, who is the spitting image of Isabeau but only in looks alone. While Isabeau would never hurt any animal, Khan’derin takes pleasure in slaughtering and fighting, and barely speaks two words.

Without giving too much of the plot away, it’s an epic adventure. The two story lines that I just mentioned have much more to them than what I’ve just explained – It would a) take me forever to explain them and b) give away all the good twists in the novel so I’m going to have to leave you with a skeletal plot summary.

To be honest, I didn’t always love this book. When I first started reading it, I found the language difficult to understand. All of the dialogue is written in phonetic Scottish, so it takes a little while to piece some things together (i.e. that Bairn is the world child) but once you do, the dialogue grows on you. What I also like about this book is that the pace is steady the whole way through. A pet hate of my when it comes to adventure or fantasy series is that the book focuses too much on the adventure, then crams all the action into the last 80-odd pages. Forsyth doesn’t do this – rather, she extended what could have potentially been a three or four book series into six books, and the story is all the better for it.

You get a sense of who the characters are because you have a chance to learn a bit before them before most of them meet their untimely deaths. But you also get a sense of how little individual moments contribute and fit in to the overall storyline. It’s almost like looking at the butterfly effect, I guess you could say …

It’s superbly written though, and once you’ve gotten use to the dialogue, the rest of the story sucks you in. The story ends at the right time, which leaves the reader wanting more without being irritated where it was left. (There’s a cliffhanger, and then there’s just torture. This one is a cliffhanger, folks).

While it is technically a Young Adult series, I found that I appreciated the story a lot more once I hit my early twenties and had a bit more experience reading fantasy novels that had more than one single plot throughout the novel. This book (and indeed the whole series) allows the reader to follow about 10 or so plots easily, and see how they all fit in to the bigger picture.

If you’re going to read this novel (which you should, by the way …) you need to give yourself plenty of time. This isn’t a novel you can speed read, and still get to the end of the novel and understand what was going on. There are so many little things that happen in this novel that you need to commit to memory in order to appreciate how the rest of the story unfurls. Be patient, be persistent, and I promise that you’ll find this book (and the others that follow) very rewarding.

Overall rating: 4.5/5

The Fault In Our Stars

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

“The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green

When I was on Tumblr a few weeks ago, I discovered that John Green had a new book that had just come out. What I also learned, is that it was a brilliant book that challenged the reader both in the language it used, and the ideas that it presented in the novel. I don’t usually buy books that I haven’t read, but I searched high and low in all the Canberra bookstores until I found it. Am I glad that I purchased this book? Absolutely. It was bloody brilliant!

Seventeen year old Hazel has been battling Thyroid cancer since she was twelve. At age fifteen her doctors found a miracle drug that stopped the tumours growth – at least for now. Two years on from her medical miracle, Hazel is trying to lead a semi normal life; going to college, seeing her friends, spending time with her family whilst watching America’s Next Top Model and attending her Cancer Support Group – all whilst tethered to her oxygen tank she fondly refers to as Phillip.

Whilst at a Cancer Support Group meeting, she meets Augustus Waters; every seventeen year old (and 26 year old!) girls dream guy. Smart, funny, incredibly good looking and in Remission, Augustus takes an interest in Hazel. As she spends more time with him, and their fellow Cancer Support Group friend, Isaac (who had recently become blind from his Cancer and then dumped by his girlfriend) Hazel begins to fall hopelessly in love with Augustus. First reluctantly, then completely.

When Hazel learns that Augustus’ health isn’t as good as she was led to believe, she experiences first hand the road that her parents, family and her friends will have to travel down when her miracle drug stops working.

This novel is both beautiful and heartbreaking. I didn’t read any reviews of it before I started reading the book, and some of the twists in the plot were absolutely gut wrenching. It keeps the reader hooked the whole way through with the many ups and downs that Cancer patients endure. I also believe that Green captures the voice of Hazel perfectly – a touch cynical, but still humourous despite having terminal cancer.

Although this book is purely fictional, it’s highly realistic. Having had my grandfather pass away a few weeks ago, and my mother battle Cancer last year, I can honestly say that John Green has captured both life and death accurately. That’s often a difficult thing for a writer to do – I’ve found very few books that have portrayed death so accurately that it’s left me in tears. For me, this was a very emotional book to read and it hit home hard, but upon finishing it last night I discovered that it was also highly rewarding.

It takes an exceptional writer to make the reader feel like a different person after they finish a novel, but Green has achieved that ten fold. Despite its topic, the book isn’t morbid the whole way through as one would expect. It seamlessly brings together both physical and emotional journeys, drama, humour and, of course, romance.

Augustus gives Hazel an infinite love in their numbered days. I can only hope that at some point in my life, I’m lucky enough to have a love like theirs.

Overall rating: 5/5

 

Click

Tags

, , , , , ,

“Click” by Nick Hornby, Linda Sue Park, David Almond, Eoin Colfer, Deborah Ellis, Roddy Doyle, Tim Wynne-Jones, Ruth Ozeki, Margo Lanagan and Gregory Maguire

I know what you’re thinking … Did 10 people really write this book? The answer is yes. And strangely enough it works! Although each author has a different voice, it gels the story together as each chapter is told from a different person’s perspective. The plot of this story was one that really interested me, though I must say that it was told MUCH differently than the blurb on the back of the book suggested.

This story is all about “Gee” – a famous photographer who lead quite a mysterious life. When he passes away, he leaves his Grand Daughter, Maggie, a box of sea shells with a cryptic clue inside, while her brother, Jason receives Gee’s old camera and a stack of signed photographs. Each chapter is told by someone that Gee has taken a photo of and each explain how they met Gee and the effect he had on their life. Along the way, Maggie’s family uncovers secrets about Gee that further add to his mysterious life. The gifts that Gee left Maggie and Jason at the start of the book end up taking them all around the world, and some of their stories are told in this book too.

It really is a beautiful story and it unfolds over about 60 years. It’s a difficult book to sum up in a paragraph because the plotting in this book is so intricate. Each chapter fits into Gee, Maggie and Jason’s life and it’s great to read how the people featured in Gee’s photographs met him, and what gifts he bestowed upon them too. Some of the stories are heart-wrenching, while others entertaining. There are some great twists which maintain interest throughout the duration of the book too. It can be challenging to work out who fits in where in the overall picture, but I assure you that it all comes together when the book concludes. This book would be great for older readers because the story is intriguing and very rarely gets dull. I believe this is because of all the different voice that are telling this story – each is unique and captivating, and adds to the theme of the book.

Having just lost my Grandfather, I could identify with Maggie’s loss in the first chapter of the book, and the emotions that she experienced. But what followed was a beautiful story of how another life begins when someone else’s ends.

Overall rating: 3.5 Stars