Saturday, September 13, 2014

[Review] Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Goodreads
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 31/07/2014
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher for review
Genre: Adult // Magical Realism

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity


Book Tunes
Lily Allen - Littlest Things

My Rating: 
Delightful read
My thoughts

This was my first venture into Rainbow Rowell's writing so any of my expectations were established by the enormous amount of buzz, hype and love that surrounds this author. Of course, much of that buzz, hype and love is directed towards her young adult titles, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, but her adult books have also received much praise. 'Landline' was a delight to read, and it invites the reader to question what they would do in that situation: if you had a magic phone that could somehow contact someone from the past, would you try to fix things?

Georgie McCool, a comedy TV writer, married with two kids, has finally gotten her BIG BREAK. Her, and her long-time partner-in-crime slash fellow-comedy TV writer, dream show may finally get to become a reality! But when that means that she'll be staying behind to work on the script for her new show to meet deadlines while her family goes to Omaha...? Neal, her husband, is not pleased, but then again he hasn't been for a long time. Neither of them have. The love that was once there has fizzled, and Georgie would give anything to fix things, find out where exactly they went wrong. Neal coolly dismisses her and leaves with the kids. Distraught and disheartened, Georgie eventually goes to her childhood home only to find that her childhood phone, a yellow rotary, connects her to her Neal, the Neal from the past...

I kind of saw the magic phone as a physical and fantastical representation of the main character sifting through her memories and trying to figure out how things went wrong. Kind of like her brain just... snapped, and the sort of psychiatric haze that she's put herself in after her husband leaves with their kids to Omaha for the Christmas without her (because she's just landed the chance of a lifetime with work) was interesting to explore and follow. I loved the utilisation of the phone, and it made for some hilariously awkward moments between present-Georgie and past-Neal. I think that Rowell succeeded in maintaining a good balance the realism and magical aspects of the book. I haven't read much chick lit, but of the ones I have read, Rowell gets the balance just right.

I adored the tension between Georgie and Seth. (Spoilers ahead!) [[[They're so close, yet there's always been that boundary between them. They've got this history; in the past, before Neal, everyone thought they were going to end up together, and I kind of WANTED them to get together (even though it isn't the "right ending"). Rainbow Rowell infuses this arc with bittersweet feelings, regret, longing, and it really agreed with me. I prefer how she leaves the two of them at the end of the story too.]]]


As for Neal himself... I just don't know. I think it's endearing the way that she got to meet him and their story is adorable, but as for him... I guess I just don't understand him. He was also kind of a bland character and not very likeable at all. He has his moments though, and more importantly, THEY have their moments.

I guess I should talk about the writing. It was accessible, easy to read, succinct. Could have done with a lot more description (I can't really place the story anywhere because it felt like it was set in a vacuum), but for this kind of novel I'd definitely choose story over setting, if I can't have both.


While Landline most certainly did not touch me deeply (nor will it be appearing on my top 14 of 2014) I do have to remember that I am probably not the target audience for this book. I feel like the overall messages of the book will be much more powerful for readers who have been married, or have been in a long-term relationship and it has, for some reason or other, gone sour, and there's that longing to have the sweetness back. Landline has an adorable story with some fun characters, which makes for a light and fluffy read that is just right for the upcoming holiday season.

Quotes

First line: Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.

 
Buy

AUSTRALIA: A&R | Booktopia 

INTERNATIONAL: AbeBooks | Fishpond | Book Depository




I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.




Thursday, September 4, 2014

[Review] Days of Blood and Starlight (#2) by Laini Taylor

[Goodreads]
(#2, Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone | Days of Blood and Starlight | Dreams of Gods and Monsters

Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 08/11/2012
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Pages: 512
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA (14+)

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity


Book Tunes
Meg and Dia - Monster

My Rating: 
x
My thoughts

I've always despised reviewing second books (plus) in a series. Just how much should I be allowed to disclose before the alarm bells in my brain go off, alerting me to the fact that SPOILERS ARE EVIL!? I will preface this review by saying that it if you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone it should be no question as to whether or not you continue the trilogy with Days of Blood and Starlight. Seriously, the cover alone should be convincing enough! Or what about the ending of DoSaB?

Days of Blood and Starlight begins unexpectedly: in the point of view of Zuzana, Karou's best friend (and best best friend ever!), and in true Zuzana POV fashion, the tone is light and kind of quirky and fun and unusual and just a great way to start off this book. Zuzana and Mik have amazing chemistry, great dialogue, and are one of my favourite secondary character couples. And the humour. They have that going for them.

So this book starts off a little similarly to DoSaB. Laini Taylor has a real talent for building up mystery and revealing bits and pieces in a satisfyingly gradual pace. Not too fast (info dump = BOO!) and not too slow (too secretive = BOO!). It is extremely hard to talk about any specifics with the plot, since it's all just better to learn as you read the book for yourself, but it's all there: action, emotions, atmosphere, great dialogue, delectable prose, characters that stick, a plot that escalates and builds and is so ENGAGING through and through.

I love how the aftermath of Karou and Akiva is handled in this book. I think the emotional turmoil that rests in Karou's mind in regards to Akiva, with whom she had lain and dared to dream a better world, was so very realistic. I really liked how both characters ended up individually; they are not the same "people" they were in Book One. And still. They both dare to dream of a better world, and that bonds them. Their presence and energy are magical, and it is their shared dream that sparks off some potential... hope, as the ones closest to them switch sides and begin to share that dream, or something thereof.



I am very much still a big fan of Laini Taylor’s writing style. It is different to what I am accustomed to, especially in YA literature, but it is a good kind of different. Consistent with Daughter of Smoke and Bone, this book is written in third-person past.
If you were impressed by Laini Taylor’s world-building, character-progression, plot-development and suspenseful, beautiful, unique writing style, you will not be disappointed with Days of Blood and Starlight! The stakes are higher, the blood count is rising and the pressure is building. I am itching to start reading Dreams of God and Monsters – my only regret is that I can’t finish these books quicker (big books)!


Quotes


First line: Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching. Satellites had even been tasked to surveil the Charles Bridge, in ccase the . . . visitors , . . returned. Strange things had happened in this city before, but not this strange. At least, not since video existed to record it.  Or milk it.
Favourite quotes:

"'It's like, luck friction. One's flint and one's steel, striking together to make fire.' (372)

"Bodies are only dead weight--we're all just vessels, after all--but knowing that was one thing; leaving a body behind was another. Karou understood that well enough. It is bodies that make us real. What is a soul without eyes to look through, or hands to hold? Her own hands trembled and she clasped them to keep them still. (466)
 
Buy

AUSTRALIA: Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | BookWorld

INTERNATIONAL: Fishpond | Book Depository




I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

[Recap] YA Book Buzz @ Kinokuniya - National Bookshop Day 2014



I normally never get the opportunity to attend a book event--it's either work or school, too early or too late or too far or just somehow otherwise inconvenient to get out there to meet the authors. But not this time! Stroke of luck: my boss told me to take the day off work, so I quickly RSVP'd and ended up going with a couple of fellow book-loving friends.

We entered Kinokuniya at roughly 11:30 am, drinks from the Starbucks downstairs in hand, only to be faced with a panel of authors overlooking about five rows of chairs. Luckily we got to sit down (a few people had to stand along the sidelines) and enjoy our drinks while the crew set up the mics and the authors talked amongst themselves. They looked quite excited to be there, the audience, ditto.


A couple of minutes passed before the host hopped up on stage and started things up. The authors bantered about who should speak first: Garth Nix eagerly nominated Wanda Wiltshire, who admits that this is her second book event, but her first with a considerable crowd. She passionately described her novel, Betrothed, which is about not just romantic love (it is NOT just a romance novel!), but love of all kinds. I had never even heard of her book before, but it was a treat to listen to her talk about her book, as well as her sequel, Allegiance. She finished up with some book recommendations--anything by Melina Marchetta and the Shiver trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.

Garth Nix took the mic next, much to Wanda Wiltshire's relief (Garth: don't worry, we'll get back to you). He was a bit sick but still very charismatic and funny. Unfortunately I only remember his recommendation of Rogues, a collection of short stories about rogues written by the likes of George R.R. Martin, Gillian Flynn, himself (Garth Nix) and Neil Gaiman, and Howl's Moving Castle and all other works by Diana Wynn Jones.



Next up, Margo Lanagan, who I was pretty excited to meet since her books probably interested me the most. She describes her books as 'dark fantasy' and mentions that her next book will also be a selkie novel, but even darker and more messed up than Sea Hearts (The Brides of Rollrock Island). She makes light of the fact that her previous books have run into trouble in the past for being filth (Them: Is this the kind of filth that kids should be reading these days? Margo: Yes!). Her biggest recommendation was Joyce Carol Oates.



Last to speak was Justine Larbalestier, who was wearing an incredibly snazzy coat. Her new release, Razorhurst, sounds so good, it was pretty hard for me not to get a copy of it for myself (both my friends did, so I will have to borrow later on). I can't remember what she recommended, but she did add on to one of Margo's (Careful, He Might Hear You by
). (Apparently the dialogue is amazing; Justine wrote Razorhurst from her reading of that book to better understand the period and how to write good dialogue.)


Then it was time for questions!



I had intended to get a copy of Tender Morsels for the longest time, so I finally got it and it's mine and she signed it and she was lovely. I'm kind of really really frugal and money-conscious, so I did not end up buying a book from every author on the panel (I did feel bad about it when I only went up to get a signature from Margo!). If I had prepared a little more and KNEW that there would be author signings I would have brought my copy of Zombies vs. Unicorns, Team Human and Sea Hearts. My friends made up for it though since they went nuts.


Anyway, I had an awesome time and I was extremely glad that I was able to attend. Let me know if any of you guys attended too! I would love to have more reading buddies for Tender Morsels... and also for Garth Nix's Abhorsen series (I've preordered the pretty new cover editions! :D)!


PS. I know I'm super late with posting my recap of this book event. I'm going to try and be more up to date with the goings-on with bookish stuff, including book events.


PPS. I will be having a giveaway in the near-ish future. Something Garth Nix related! :D <3

PPPS. I am EXTREMELY sorry for the lack of posts and presence lately! Blogging is, and always will be strictly a hobby for me, so in the grand scheme of things it'll never be up there on my priority list. Work's been crazy, life's been crazy, you know how it can be. I'll be flitting from one full-time job to another very soon, so I have no idea what's to come in the future (as usual).
 

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