Black by Fleur Ferris

Published: 22nd July 2016  Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Random House Australia
Pages: 276
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Ebony Marshall is in her final year of high school. Five months, two weeks and four days . . . She can’t wait to leave the town where she’s known only as ‘Black’. Because of her name, of course. But for another reason, too.

Everyone says Black Marshall is cursed.

Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. After Oscar, the whispers started. Now she’s used to being on her own. It’s easier that way.

But when her date for the formal ends up in intensive care, something in quiet little Dainsfield starts to stir. Old secrets are revealed and terrifying new dangers emerge.

If only Black could put all the pieces together, she could work out who her real enemies are. Should she run for her life, or stay and fight?

I loved this book. I love how Ferris can make the simplest real life things turn into something creepy and unsettling. I love that she highlights these real life disturbing situations and turns them into something worthy of a horror story. My favourite thing is that with all the monsters invented over history, ‘it’s just people’ is often the scariest thing out there and Ferris knows how to bring these hidden real life monsters out from the shadows.

This is of course helped by having a character like Black. Her voice, her manner, her personality is perfect for this story, the right mix of everything. She isn’t a snob or some wild, social outcast who shuns people and they dislike her because she rebels. She has built a wall around herself to protect herself after life continues to torment her. I think Black is to be commended for her strength and the fact that she doesn’t let it change who she is, the fact her defences are there for her own sanity, is something I commend.

Ferris is always wonderful at creating strong family dynamics, and like Risk before, Black has a wonderful mother/daughter relationship. It was one I enjoyed seeing, the realistic love and protection and fierceness in both of them made them come to life. It wasn’t just two characters on a page that happened to be related, Ferris highlights their relationship well making them complex and genuine and they could easily be real people.

I loved the creepy nature of this story, Ferris makes it so vivid; I was there with Black with the uncertainty and the fear. I was drawn into the story by the subtleness and how the evil sneaks up on you, how the peculiarities of people suddenly snap and chaos unfolds. The tension and heightened emotion works well and Ferris paces it perfectly and makes you wait and wonder, and makes you wonder what will happen and marvel at the fact it is happening at all.

You can purchase Black via the following

Amazon AustBook Depository

Booktopia | QBD

Angus and Robinson | Dymocks

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (spoiler free) by Jack Thorne & John Tiffany, J.K. Rowling

Published: 31st July 2016 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Little Brown UK
Pages: 343
Format: Hardcover book of the script
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

I had mixed feelings about reading this script. I was excited for a new Harry Potter story, but I was also unsure how it would be treated. After years of Rowling feeding us new information and revealing more of the story I was eager to see how the kids of the famous trio were getting on. How the original gang were all enjoying their adult lives and new jobs. I was, however, also worried that it would ruin the magic and the near perfection of the original series. I was worried that it would be a half hearted extension that didn’t have the same depth and feel and immense pleasure of reading. How wrong I was. Don’t get me wrong, there are things about this that make it not perfect, but I stayed with the five stars because while the faults are there, I did so incredibly enjoy it.

From the first page I was back in the Harry Potter world, I could picture it, feel it, it was like we’d never left. I fell hopelessly into the story and fell in love with characters new and old. My heart was overjoyed and breaking for so many reasons and I was barely ten pages in. For a script it felt so much like a story, I have no doubt the one actually used was a bit different again, and no doubt will be changed as the performances go on, but for now I like to imagine this is the one that will be seen on the stage.

A few stage directions are included, as a script would have, and it was fascinating to try and picture how this would be performed on stage, but when I wasn’t doing that I was picturing it in my mind as a novel, the back and forward of my imagination wasn’t an issue, and it was remarkable how a play script could be as evocative as a fully fledged novel that has scenery and more detail given to surroundings and character thoughts.

There are old names I would have loved to have seen included, but understandable this is the next generation’s story and you can’t include the old guard just for nostalgia purposes and to satisfy the long time fans. But those that are included are a joy to read about.

There are surprises, wonderful surprises, and less wonderful surprises, and I can already see opinions divided about the story, but as I say, I loved it, I devoured it. I loved every character for so many reasons, they have come across complex and full as any novel could make them, and it’s wonderful in a way to see the idiolised characters with faults and human mistakes of their own, even in the wonderful wizarding world.

Overall I think the writers did a wonderful job capturing the original Rowling style, and Thorne’s play reflects the amazing world Rowling spent so long creating. I was surprised, delighted, shocked, and concerned about so much in the story and it has certainly provided enough new material and controversial topics for lengthy debating to occur. Whether that is a good thing overall I’m not sure.

I hope your own Harry Potter experience has been spoiler free, and that you derived some enjoyment from the story if you were one of those who were not thrilled at the plot, or the fact it exists at all. Personally, I’m glad it is a play and not a new book, and I’m glad, that while I won’t get to see the play, I could experience it all the same. I could easily and happily see this as a fitting end to Harry’s life and story, but whether that is to be the case, we’ll have to wait and see.

Hamlet by John Marsden

Published: 8th April 2013Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Bolinda Audio
Length: 5 hours
Format: Audio CD (4 Discs)
Narrator: Humphrey Bower
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Hamlet’s father has just died. By the time they’ve filled in the grave his mother has remarried. Hamlet suspects foul play, and it’s troubling his spirit. Or maybe he was always troubled. Ophelia is in love with him. His best friend Horatio can’t work him out. Then, on a cold, still night, Hamlet meets the ghost of his father…

John Marsden, one of Australia’s most-loved writers, takes Shakespeare’s famous play and turns it into a moving and full-blooded novel.

I have wanted to read this novelisation of Hamlet since it was first published and I am so incredibly happy that I was not disappointed. It exceeded my expectations (whatever they were) and it has made me wish that more of Shakespeare’s plays were given the Marsden novelisation treatment because I think they would be divine.

Whether it’s Marsden magic or just the fact that the novel could include more detail, but I had so much more sympathy for Hamlet listening to this than I ever did with the play. Marsden’s words really brings out Hamlet’s home life and his despair, yes, he is a dramatic idiot and you roll your eyes at him at the start, but through the rest of the story you see what his life is like, what he is like, and you really pity him and for the situation his father put him in and how it affects him.

The plot follows the play in terms of events, I did find myself waiting lines to be included that are so well known from the play, but Marsden doesn’t fall for cheap copying, the same elements are there, the same moments, but Marsden doesn’t reduce this novelisation to simply adding quotes from Shakespeare in it.

The tragedy is there, Horatio is amazing and I love him throughout. He is my absolute favourite character in this whole thing. The extension of the story allows more character depth I found, you really get a sense of not just Hamlet, but also Ophelia, Claudius and the rest. Claudius’ villainy is evident; Marsden shows us his thoughts and feelings, his desires and plans in detail that offers explanation and depth to his character. The same is true of Ophelia as her love for Hamlet is expressed through the thoughts and actions of a young woman discovering who she is and what she wants.

Marsden doesn’t update the play either, the same events are there, but they aren’t modernised or anything. Set in a time with swords and ships the locations are the same, and Marsden’s writing feels write for the era in which it is set. Not overly complex but not basic either, very poetic and melodic at times, very Shakespeare without being Shakespeare.

This was my first time listening to an audio book and it was a wonderfully absurd contrast listening to a novel which is based on a play, meaning that it was like a radio play of sorts, even though it is not written as such. Humphrey Bower as narrator did an excellent job and because you are so engrossed in the story it’s easy to follow as the voices change and you’re hardly aware that is just one person reading. I would easily call this my favourite adaptation of Hamlet and I would readily sit down and read, or listen, to it all over again.

You can purchase Hamlet via the following

Print book

AmazonBook Depository

Booktopia | QBD

Audio

Amazon Aust | Amazon

Booktopia | Book Depository

 

 

 

Wish List (#4) by Belinda Williams

Published: 26th May 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Momentum
Pages: 280
Format: ebook via the publisher and NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Could the wrong man on paper be the perfect man in real life?

Cate Harmon likes lists. While this may serve her well as a financial planner, her girlfriends think that creating a checklist for her ideal man is going a step too far. But she has one, and she’s sticking to it.

Cate has always dreamed of starting a family and settling down and yet she’s the only one of her close-knit friendship group still unattached. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to lower her standards.

Enter Dave, a reformed bad boy with gorgeous hair and eyes the wrong colour. Dave doesn’t tick any of the boxes on Cate’s list. It’s unthinkable that she would develop feelings for him, and yet … Cate finds herself being drawn to Dave in a way she’s never felt before.

Will Cate confront the reasons behind her list? Or will she risk losing a man who could be better than any list she could ever dream up?

I legit had a massive smile on my while reading this book, even in the rocky parts. I think I said something corny when I started reading it saying it was like coming back home but it was true; I love these women so much and I love Williams’ stories about their lives and as soon as I started reading Cate’s story I was back in their world with Maddy and Scarlett and Christa. It was like I hadn’t left.

It’s not all big smiles and excitement though, Williams did bring a few tears to the surface in some part, but just for a moment. I’m not saying the book is 90% happiness and frivolity, but it was just so wonderful to read that every little thing made me happy, the conflict, drama, Cate’s frustration and denial, the SURPRISES! It was the perfect package and balance.

I’ve realised through this series that there’s a little bit of me in each of these women, possibly all the wrong bits to identify with but all the same there’s something in each of them I adore. I adore because despite them feeling insecure, having a duty of care, a desire to do the right thing, and having hidden secrets, they still get up and have a great life with beautiful friends. They don’t let themselves or their past stop them (well, eventually anyway).

Wish List is the final in the City Love series and after seeing Christa’s, Maddy’s, and Scarlett’s stories we finally get to explore Cate’s. Williams has been great at dropping snippets of information through all her books about each woman, and with Scarlett’s story Cate was given a closer look, just enough to tease you and build anticipation. Justified too because the Cate we discover is totally unexpected from the Cate we’ve gotten to know. Delving into her mind and life is wonderful and finding out more about her secretive past and seeing that she isn’t always the cautious and structured girl she seems to be is fantastic, like all the girls we see her grow.

Williams’ starts off the story slowly, almost as you’d expect, meeting a guy who isn’t the guy you expect to fall for, but even if you think you know what may happen, that it will follow some clear set of events, it won’t. Williams brings a whole new story to the table and brings complexity and depth and drama that doesn’t feel over the top or too messy, it feels real and justified and intense.

That isn’t even the biggest twist as Williams has five or six more up her sleeve that continually surprise you when you least expect it. She lulls you into feeling safe before pouncing and makes you remember all the little details you’d forgotten about because you were caught up and recovering from the last surprise. It’s easy to think this story is one big issue but it’s a bigger, deeper, more complicated situation that twists and turns and shocks and delights you. By the end you can’t believe you ever thought it was just going to be that simple. It’s not even close to being that simple.

For me this is the best and most wonderful ending to a series and a book I’ve read. Williams has always treated these women well and given them stories that suit them and that they deserve, this is no exception, and being the final book it also manages to be a farewell and big finale for the four of them. The continual surprises and little bits of joy and intensity are an emotional ride but I wouldn’t change a thing. As I read my heart was pounding, I had knots in my stomach, a smile on my face, continually holding in gasps and squeals as my eyes fled across the page trying to read faster and possibly physically immerse myself in the story.

One thing I admire about William’s writing is she makes wonderful romantic stories that are heart-warming, heartbreaking, and satisfying without making them overly sweet and mushy, or too innocent or risqué either. Getting inside the heads of these women helps balance that out because you see their reservations, their developing feelings and their reasoning behind what they do. You also fall in love with new characters and reacquaint yourself with the old ones. Dave is my favourite of all the boys in this series, even for his faults. With Cate’s narration we can see how he causes her so must frustration and angst, how his few words annoy her and confuse her. But through Dave’s actions we see a bit more of Cate as well, they balance each other out.

I could go on forever and talk about every little thing in this book but I won’t, I’ve gone on enough already, but I will say that there’s 101 things to adore in this story, it’s got everything, love, drama, friendship, excitement, the works. William’s has done a truly marvellous job and had wrapped up the City Love series spectacularly.

You can pre-order Wish List via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble

Google Play | iBooks Store

Kobo

AWW16

Rainbows and Raindrops by Kelley Lynn and Jenny S Morris

 Rainbows and Raindrops by Lynn and Morris
 RELEASE DAY BLITZ

Published: 18th April 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 CookieLynn Publishing
Pages: 214
Format: ebook
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Before… They are the Musketeers–one for all and all for Rain, or however that saying goes. 

Now that Rain’s sixteen, freedom is at her fingertips. Cliff jumping at the lake. Rain’s first tattoo. Spence finally asking her out. With her friends by her side, there’s no reason Rain can’t be happy in a world that constantly tries to extinguish her addictive, carefree spirit.
After… It’s just Rain. No misfits and no Musketeers.

Until Rain pulls up to her new summer job and discovers the two people she’s been hiding from–Spence and Landon– are her new cabin mates. Landon’s determined to help Rain overcome her guilt and remember what once was. As they become closer, he awakens a part of her soul she never thought she’d feel again.

Making Rain wonder if, despite all the mistakes she’s made, it’s worth trying to get back to the girl she used to be.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book for review.

I can promise you that after reading the first few pages of this I was sure I wasn’t going to love this book. I judged early and based on those first pages I thought that this girl Rain was going to become tiresome if she was that over the top through the whole story. She was a loud, over bearing extrovert that seemed to take up all the space, but my mind quickly changed. I really thought after her big introduction that I wouldn’t like Rain, but once you understand, even before “the event”, once you see her life and her situation and know there is a different side to her. Wild is definitely a good word for Rain, free spirit is close, but not quite. She is trying to escape her reality, doing things in the moment and looking for little joys in life which can make her reckless.

This is a before and after type story, jumping between moments, scenes, and time to tell a complete story with some intrigue and mystery. Lynn and Morris bring Rain’s before world to life with all the colour she brings to it, and contrasts it beautifully with the after. What I loved was the mystery of what happened wasn’t dangled in front of your face, the focus surrounded Rain and her emotions, her feelings and her thoughts. Despite not knowing what had happened Rain still got inside your heart and made you feel all her emotions alongside her.

Even once it’s revealed the aftermath is captivating enough, Lynn and Morris’ writing engrosses you and you become invested in these characters, their lives, emotions, and loss. The story makes you anxious and nervous, not so much for the romance aspect but because of the conflict and pain and guilt that is coursing through it.  I became so involved with this story I was compelled to keep going. It really does grab a hold of your heart and the more you read that grip tightens and makes your heart beat faster and the butterflies swarm. I became nervous for these characters, worried, sad, fearful, and proud of every one of them. Nothing felt rushed or outlandish, there were no quick fix solutions and seeing Rain work through her pain and see the others do it as well felt honest.

Emotion definitely drives this story, emotion and the characters. I didn’t feel a romantic suspense, or even a love triangle, not that there isn’t romance, but it isn’t the focus of the story. Grief and dealing with loss is the driving force but it’s also about friendship and being young, afraid, and fearless.

I really fell in love with each of these characters for different reasons and I really didn’t mean to. Everyone from Rain to Spencer, to Annie and Stacey, they’re so much like real people you want to comfort them and help them as best you can. I loved Spencer and Landon early on, they’re such sweeties and Landon is such a wonderful friend to Rain, they have been there for one another for most of their lives and their intense friendship is beautiful. The entire friendship of the group is wonderful; because they all have different home lives and struggles, the four of them find solidarity and comfort in each other. They make their own family and support one another. This bond is so beautiful, one that crushes you even more once it’s broken.

Lynn and Morris don’t make the journey easy, and nor should it be. But the emotions Rain feels are honest and you really get a sense of her fear and shame, and the guilt she feels. Fixing a past you’ve run away from is never going to happen overnight and that’s what makes this so excellent, everything from the characters to the pacing, the gradual improvements and the setbacks. It takes the time it needs to tell the story right, and when you come out the other side you feel satisfied.

There is so much I want to say about this story but can’t for fear of giving away too much. Trust me though when I say that it’s heartbreaking, and beautiful, and honest, and captivating, and all those wonderful words that people use to make you read a book. It is a wonderful story, one I couldn’t stop reading, and I am so glad it is the first in a series because I can’t wait to keep reading about these guys.

You can purchase Rainbows and Raindrops via the follow

Amazon

Amazon Aust

Book Trailer

ABOUT THE AUTHORS


Kelley Lynn

YA author with genre commitment issues. Eventually the day came when the voices in Kelley Lynn’s head were more insistent then her engineering professor’s. So instead of turning to her Thermodynamics book, Kelley brought up a blank page on her computer and wrote. Somewhere along the way she became a Young Adult author. Kelley’s enjoyed working with traditional publishers as well as publishing work on her own. Feel free to hang out with Kelley at her Facebook Page or see what she’s tweeting about. (@KelleyLynn1) She loves to get feedback on her work through authorkelleylynn@gmail.com

Jenny S Morris

I’m a working wife and mother. Lover of music, avid reader by day and writer/ninja by night.

I love almost anything geek related, and I may have a Kdrama addiction

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