3rd Blogiversary Celebrations + Giveaway (INT)

2yr AnniversaryWhere does the time go? Today marks my third anniversary of this blog. It has been an absolute joy, every year has been so different and I am still learning and working out the kinks, and in between that I get to read fantastic books from fantastic authors and share them with the world, literally the world. That’s pretty awesome if you think about it.

Because of this blog I have discovered some amazing authors, some of which have fast become favourites and I am so pleased to have a platform where I can share a few of my all time favourite books and newly discovered ones as well. I am also forever grateful to the numerous authors and publishers who ask me to review for them. It’s an absolute joy and privilege to share your work and read your amazing stories.

To celebrate and to say a big enthusiastic THANK YOU to you all I am giving TWO lucky people the chance to win a book from the selection below.  The books I’ve chosen are some of my all time favourites that I’ve read in the past three years. Some I have reviewed others I haven’t, if you want to check out the books in more detail I’ve included some links below.

Because I’m in a celebratory mood I am opening it up internationally — the only condition being that bookdepository.com must ship to your country. If they do, then go ahead and enter!

Thank you again for a great three years, good luck to all the entrants, and happy reading!

Books

The Selection

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Sunshine (#1) by Nikki RaeReview

Are We There Yet by David Levithan

Siren’s Song (#1) by Heather McCollum  – Review

Looking For Alaska by John GreenReview

The Book of Lost Things by John ConnollyReview

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Child Thief by Brom

Giveaway

To enter: For a chance to win one of the pictured books simply enter here and complete the Rafflecopter form.

 Please note: This giveaway is international on the basis the Book Depository ships to your country . To see if you are eligible you can check their website.

Giveaway runs until midnight AEDT on Friday 5th February 2016

Advertisements

Two Year Blogiversary Giveaway (INT)!!!! DRAWN

2yr AnniversaryTwo years. Where does the time go? We’re just a toddler in the blogging world, really. And like most two year olds we are very good at some things but still working other things out. While we may not have a vocabulary of just 200 words, we are very interested in drawing (though we are not very good at it) and we love to colour (but never in between the lines because we’re rebellious like that).

At two years old we find ourselves trying to find our place in the big wide world, much bigger and wider than we imagined at one. We are becoming more independent though, learning, growing with our experiences and we are trying our best to mimic adult behaviour and activities in an attempt to fool the world and hide our youth and inexperience. We can be impatient and our sentences are not always coherent when we get excited, or even when we are not excited for that matter, but we try. Things are never dull that is for sure.

In all seriousness though, it is pretty amazing to reach the two year mark, seeing what started as a wish and a dream for years turn into something that is growing and developing, being incredible exciting and rewarding, while also still managing to teach me things all the time. Somehow two years seems more substantial than one. I feel like I’m just starting still, but at the same time I also feel like I have pushed passed those early stages of blog running and am now more established. I certainly feel more established than I did this time last year where it was sheer determination that kept me going. Perhaps by next year I will have myself even more figured out, who knows!

Importantly I would like to thank all the amazing people who have commented, liked, and shared posts in the last two years and all my followers on the blog, Facebook, and on Twitter. You guys are wonderful and make me feel like I am not just talking to myself on the internet!  I would also like to thank the amazing authors and publishers who gave me great opportunities to read and review their books, whether it was a personal email or if it was just a general chance to sign up for a blog tour. You have all helped make this blog what it is and I look forward to working with more of you as time goes on.

Giveaway

As a reward and in honour of hitting the two year mark I am running a month long international giveaway! I have five books up for grabs, all very different from one another and you can enter to win just one or all five! It’s up to you! Click on the book title to read the synopsis from Goodreads. Entry details are below.

BOOK ONE: The Fault in our Stars by John Green (Young Adult)

BOOK TWO: Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (Young Adult)

BOOK THREE: The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster (Romance/Chick Lit)

BOOK FOUR: Murder in Mississippi by John Safran (Non Fiction Crime)

BOOK FIVE: Stoner by John Williams (Historical Fiction)

 

To enter: Simply leave a comment on this post letting me know which book you would like to win. If you want to enter to win more than one that’s perfectly fine. Winners will be drawn on 24th February 2015 with the winners being notified by email. Good luck everyone!

Giveaway runs from 23rd January 2015 until midnight AEDT 23rd February 2015

Top Five of 2013

New year means time for my 2013 Top Five list. Like last year these are the books that were real surprises and completely unexpected in just how wonderful they’d be. They managed to get me excited, engaged, emotional, and managed to change how I saw the world just that little bit.

Because I read some pretty wonderful authors as well as books in 2013 I am mixing things up a bit and compiling a top five authors as well as books. I only managed to read 45 books in 2013 because of Uni, other commitments, and “things”, but there were some absolute gems within those 45. Looking at it now, it almost seems like the year of the Young Adult novel which is interesting.

2013 was also the year I read a lot of particular authors or series which was very rewarding, however it also makes choosing a simple 5 rather hard. I am not going to number them because really, it won’t mean all that much, they all could be number one.

Top Five Books

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
It was hard to find the right Thursday Next book to choose from those I read, but this won out. The entire nature of the narrative was weird and bizarre as per usual but offered something new and different to the series. Being the fifth book in the series a lot has come before it and a lot comes after it in the next two books but while each book brings new stories and people, there is a common thread through it all and a great sense of familiarity despite each book being very different from one another. It also made me read Pinocchio so that was a bonus experience right there.

Looking For Alaska by John Green
Oh do not talk to me about this book. This like The Book of Lost Things have had messed up my life so much, I mean really it is quite unfair. This is a beautiful story, it is about finding out who you are, trying to find a place in the world, and about friendship and life and all the crazy unknowns about being a teenager. And you truly have to listen to his brother Hank’s song ‘Looking For Alaska‘ which is about the book because it is just as wonderful and emotional as the book itself, and while you can listen to it before reading because it doesn’t contain any exact spoilers, it has so much more meaning once you’ve read the book.

Artemis Fowl and  the Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer
If only an entire series could be selected this would be one I’d pick. This is the eighth and last book in the Artemis Fowl series, and I could easily have also picked the seventh book to accompany it in this list but I didn’t. I think, remembering back to the moment when I finished, this was a much better choice because while the seventh book was emotionally involving and wonderful, I think this one rides of the back of that and brings it to a whole new level combining everything we’ve seen from the series so far. A really exceptional read.

Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A. S. King
I had been trying to find this book for awhile. I cannot remember exactly what made me want to start reading it, I think I may have stumbled on one of A. S. King’s quotes and went from there. Throughout the book there are certainly a number of wonderful quotes about life, society, being a teenager, a friend, someone’s child. However I found it it was worth it on so many levels, I got so much out of this book that made me look at the world just a little bit differently. And after all, isn’t that what a good book should do really?

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I have wanted to read this for awhile, and with the movie being released now was the time. Like Please Ignore Vera Deitz, this book was filled with so many wonderful insights and poignant moments about life, being a teenager, trying to find your place in the world. Chbosky has a way with words that suit his characters so well. You can picture everything and with Charlie as our eyes you just follow him and watch the world go by. It is really beautiful. There is a mystery around the whole thing and it just sits quietly as the story goes on, offering us an occasional snippet. But the pleasure is really just following Charlie and seeing him experience life, make friends, and uncover things about himself he never thought possible.

 

Top Five Authors

John Green
I read all of John’s wonderful books in 2013, from his first book An Abundance of Katherines, to his most recent release The Fault in Our Stars. His writing style is pretty wonderful, he can express the voice of a teenager extremely well, while also offering multiple profound and insightful moments in deep or seemingly mundane moments and strange circumstances. Away from Looking For Alaska, Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Paper Towns had to be my other favourites.

Eoin Colfer
If we don’t already adore him for his entire Artemis Fowl series, we love him a little more for his new series W.A.R.P. Colfer has a wonderful humour in his writing, the witty nature of his characters and the absurdness that can occur is his books is a joy to read. Colfer’s imagination is captured in his books and there is no end to the surprises that he comes up with in his work.

Jasper Fforde
Jasper Fforde was introduced to me by a friend and here we are a year later and I have been sucked into his books and numerous series and I don’t really feel like coming out. The humour, pure imagination and creativity, not to mention the complete literature focus is more than enough the adore his Thursday Next books, but even others like The Last Dragonslayer have the same Fforde style and engaging nature that bring you into this constructed world and you just cannot wait to see where it’ll lead and through which twists and surprises on the way.

Neil Gaimain
Neil is on this list because it is Neil basically. But I read his novel The Ocean at the End of Lane and it was just excellent. It was such an awesome book that mixed magic and reality, as well as childhood memories and mystery that you really are quite moved by the whole thing. I’ve also included him because his short stories in M for Magic were so haunting and wonderful that you just admire the skills that exists in one person to make you so moved and affected without seemingly doing anything too grand and extraordinary, but in facts hide the extraordinary and magic in the seemingly simple.

Aurelio Voltaire
Getting to review and interview Voltaire about his new book was a serious highlight of 2013 I cannot tell you.  Having fallen in love with his music it was no doubt I loved his book as well. But it wasn’t just my love of his work that makes him great, it is also his wonderfully storytelling abilities. For a first time writer he did an excellent job with his book Call of the Jersey Devil, and his history as a song writer really shines in his descriptions and his narrative. I’m not sure whether Voltaire plans on writing another fiction novel anytime soon, but if he does, I’m sure it will be just as wonderful.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Published: October 16, 2008
Goodreads badgePublisher: Speak
Pages: 236
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun – but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

I liked this book, I really did. For me it was something so very different and peculiar, yet very emotional without possibly intending to be. This is the story of Colin Singleton, a former child prodigy who is now desperate to stop the pain of being dumped by Katherine XIX and to find a way to matter.

To try and recover from being dumped, Colin and his friend Hassan go on a road trip, which ends shortly after in Gutshot Tennessee after a quest to see the Archduke Franz Ferdinand leads them to Lindsey, Hollis, and a town intriguing enough to stay in. The story is in their time there, something I won’t delve too much in, you have to go on it yourself, there is too much and too little to actually describe to make it not just a simple plot breakdown. I know this book is not a favourite by a few people, but I see that as the same reasons why I loved it. There is a lot of judgement at face value, and either a misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or simple inability to understand Colin as a character that people couldn’t connect with.

As a character there is an awkwardness about Colin; he is slightly too quick to judge, but not necessarily in a harsh way, almost logically based on what is presented to him. Though he is not against changing his opinions, he just needs cause to do so. We see through the story histories and flashbacks that this is who Colin has always been, and the struggle Colin has in being who he is can be insightful. He apologises when he is called out on displaying knowledge, that is a bit depressing, but there is enough in Colin’s straightforward character to know he is not too worried. This is the starting point of his character, a place we get to see change begin, in all the right areas but also not too much.

There is a deep thread of intellect in this entire story, and especially through its characters, but not in a way that feels forced. The knowledge and intellect that are displayed fit perfectly with each character and with who they are as people, and as young adults. Whether this seems pretentious to some, I took as being an excellent addition of a story and new approach to characters.

Also the use of footnotes was a new thing I had not seen in a fiction book before and I thought they were an excellent addition, they didn’t distract from the flow of the story or reading at all, often they were additional thoughts regarding Colin, or an explanation of terms and translations, or simply extra commentary. Their role was to add a little bit extra to the story and do what footnotes are designed to do, hold important information but do not need to be in the main body of work. There are also graphs, but these are woven into the story a bit more than the footnotes, they have narrative purpose, but are nonetheless just as intriguing.

John Green as an author likes to give his characters uniqueness about them, whether it is loving an abundance of Katherines and making anagrams, or, like in Looking For Alaska, it is knowing famous people’s last words. What he puts into his characters gives them uniqueness, a quirk that is not something that is obvious and makes them stand out, but it is just like reality, we all have a strange thing we enjoy, and that is just who we are and what we do.

I often find it interesting about people’s relationships in books. Colin’s friend Hassan continuously tells Colin that what he says and knows is not interesting and no one wants to hear it, but the thing is, I actually do. I am interested that Niko Telsa’s hair stood on end for a week after 50000 currents went through his body. That is interesting to know. I do not understand why people do not like to know things. How is knowing things about the past and the world around you uninteresting, even if they are trivial? Why is it such a bad thing to find things interesting? Niko Telsa, the pigeon lover, is interesting.

The sad thing I found is that Colin listens to his friend Hassan where he shouldn’t, and other times he ignores him when he shouldn’t. Just because Hassan thinks Colin shouldn’t be something, doesn’t mean he should try and change it, however there are some aspects of Colin that need improving so it can be complicated. Hassan himself has his own flaws, everyone has their own flaws, this is not an ideal world with magic and perfection, it is a representation of life. Colin is a failed prodigy, unable to figure out what he is doing, what life is about, and what he should be doing with his time. Hassan on the other side is obsessed with Judge Judy, is one of those friends who seemingly bullies his friend and makes it seem like a joke, and he is too is looking for something to do with his life, even if it is in a less scientific way than Colin.

I’d almost say it is not exactly a coming of age story, in the same way that it is. Colin is essentially lost, he does the metaphorical and physical (albeit relatively short) road trip to find answers, and in doing so he learns about himself. The people Colin and Hassan meet influence them, as does the events they get embroiled in, but all the while Colin continues to find his way to matter. The idea of trying to prevent others from being in the same dumped situation he begins working on trying to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship by using the information from his failed relationships.

But despite being set up this way, there is a lot more to this story. Green has not made it the lifetime adventure or two friends who are off to see the world. They always seem to be wandering and looking for something, even when they are not travelling; and when opportunities come you can clearly see the cracks, and the desires to change who they are. The people they meet influence them and offer outside perspectives on who they think they are and perceive themselves to be, while offering a chance to step outside their comfort zones, whether it is for the better or not is almost irrelevant. That is part of a coming of age story, right?

As for the Katherine’s, we are given a less than chronological history of Colin’s past relationships with Katherine 1 through 19 in this story, and all the while we see how they all played out and how it affected Colin and his desire for the Theorem. What Green has done rather well is he introduces us to information, and either in footnotes or through dialogue he essentially tells us that it will all be explained in the end. We are given references and clues, or mentions of the Katherine’s past, and we must read on to see the connections, where these references originate, and why they are important. This is the case not just for the Katherines, but for other information as well.

The characters certainly drive this story, you see how they grow and interact with their surroundings, and with not a lot going on in Gutshot, there is a lot of value placed in the people within the town. This helps because you really get to see the characters as they are, who they are around other people, and who they are desperately trying to be without the weight of an intense and dramatic scene overshadowing those involved. Surely that is the magical part in this story, no matter who you are, everyone tries to be somebody else at some stage before realising that being who they are is just fine.

I know some people say that this is the least impressive John Green book, but I don’t think this is so, the books are all so separate from one another, and trying to compare them is not going to work. These are not works in the same world with the same characters, they are their own stories, and I would certainly not expect to compare a story against another simply because the other was better. Why would Katherines be worse just because it is not like Alaska? This is flawed thinking. As its own book it is what it is, and I enjoyed it. Comparisons are inevitable of course, but see it for what it is, not because of what it isn’t.

I think you should read this book, and even if you don’t like it, dislike it for what is it, not for what it isn’t. Though if you get nothing else from this book, something it does do is make Pi look easy enough to remember if you’re committed enough; I have only been able to get to six decimals, that’s my achievement, it seems I should be able to do more.

Authors and April 1st.

As April 1 ends and we all breathe a sigh of relief that we escaped being fooled. Not all of us are so lucky, and not just by friends, no no, but by media and personalities whom we trust and believe they’d never steer us wrong. With Facebook and Twitter allowing access to fans in a more direct manner, celebrities and companies can trick us in very creative ways. What is worse I feel is when you do not realise you have been fooled, it isn’t until a few hours later when it finally clicks that you feel foolish.

My experience was when author John Green posted on Twitter that he had been given the role of Augustus Waters in The Fault in Our Stars Film. Being a day ahead I wasn’t aware that the US had hit April yet so I was still trusting. Alas ’twas not so and I was fooled; I had been going so well all day too. I had but one hour remaining and I was out, fool free for another year. But this is not a post about being fooled, well not entirely. It got me thinking, are there cases where authors are actually allowed to act in their own films? Surely this is possible, directors slip themselves into their works all the time, being on Hitchcock watch is one of my favourite games while watching his films. I did a search and I managed to find this great article by Michelle Orange – Getting in the Act: 11 Novelists Who Found Their Way Into the Script. It is a few years out of date but interesting nonetheless. Not being actors themselves they are typically cameo appearances, not huge speaking roles like John was aiming for; but for fans of authors and the books from whence these pictures came, spotting a familiar face,  or having these fun facts are just an added joy in enjoying the film version of their beloved book (or, as it were compiling a list of complaints about a film ruining their book interrupted only by spotting the familiar face).

There are many authors who do not approve, and many who do, of where films have taken their cherished and slaved over works, and I can’t say even if they did a bang up job, I would be putting my hand up to be cameoing into anything I had written either. This feeling may be a common occurrence which could account for the fact I could only find this list of 11. There may be others I have yet to discover, and now I know it is possible I shall keep an eager eye out in future.

I hope you are already enjoying April, how did we get to month four so soon I don’t even want to think about, I hope you were not fooled too much and I hope you managed to find time to read something spectacular.

Previous Older Entries