Sunday, October 30, 2011

KIND OF In My Mailbox...I have an excuse!!! (+ hidden giveaway in post)

Hi. This is a cat.

Yay for excuses!

Anyway, I can't find my camera for the life of me. My room is just at that stage where I've given up on cleaning it up. I don't get how people can be so meticulous and clean their room on a regular basis - that's just not who I am.

I have two piles of books for IMM and I'm itching to share it with you guys since I haven't done one for yet another month!
I feel guilty since most of these are review copies, so I'll just highlight some books that I've got that are releasing soon/now. Australia or elsewhere.

I'll take a photo at a later date, or maybe even do a vlog -- who knows? So so so so so so many series items lately, which means they'll be thrown to the side. What can I say?

Harlequin Teen

* THE IRON KNIGHT (#4, Iron Fey series) by Julie Kagawa - Now, to get books #2 and #3, and read #1-4...
Release Date: November 2011, maybe?

* TOUCH OF POWER by Maria V. Snyder - Beautiful cover, which you can see on Goodreads. I got the ARC (check out a fellow Aussie's IMM), which is blank, but still ARCs are awesome!
Release Date: January 2012

Penguin Australia

* BEAUTIFUL CHAOS (#3, Castor Chronicles series) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - Still haven't read this series since it's so long. Heard lots of great things about it, and might start since I now have the whole series and can read it in bulk. 
Release Date: 31st October 2011

* LAST BREATH (#11, Morganville Vampires series) by Rachel Caine - I read the first book, Glass Houses, and it was really good. Someone told me that the series gets a lot better as you go along, so I'll have to grab books #2-10, somehow.
Release Date: 31st October 2011

* THE SENDING (#6, Obernewtyn Chronicles) by Isobelle Carmody - Looks like a really good fantasy series! I've barely heard of the series, but can you honestly say YOU'RE not curious?
Release Date: 31st October 2011

* AUDITION by Stasia Ward Kehoe - Reading now, not too far in yet. It's a verse novel, but I really like how it reads like a 'normal' prose novel.
Release Date: 31st October 2011

* RECKONING (#5, Strange Angels series) by Lili St. Crow - Still don't have the #2 book. I'm thinking if I can't find a red (not updated) copy of the book, then I'll grab an ebook and read it in the meantime so I can get through this series. I've been dying to read it!

Simon & Schuster

* Silence (#3, Hush Hush series) by Becca Fitzpatrick - I am not reading this series. I'm just not a huge angel YA fan. So. The first commenter who mentions Silence and wants it and lives in Australia can have it. Just be very clear, and provide an email address.
Release Date: October 2011?

* PRIZED (#2, Birthmarked) by Caragh O'Brien - Birthmarked is without a doubt one of my favourite dystopian novels. I'm both worried and excited, because I've heard several times that Gaia's character is so much weaker in this book. But still, I hope I can still enjoy it.
Release Date: October 2011

* EMERALD by Karen Wallace - I really like this cover, and I'm so hoping there's something significant about the dress and the bird (dove?). And what's going on in the background??
Release Date: October 2011

* ELIXIR by Hilary Duff - Apparently this is a pretty good read. Thanks for sending the first book when I asked, S&S!

Allen & Unwin/Bloomsbury

* SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi - I just finished reading this a couple days ago. 4.5 STARS ~ What an earth-rumbling debut this book is! It's quiet in its malice, the action unfolds slowly, and you'll find yourself in Juliette's head quite a lot. So many twists in this book and it's just all really good. Definitely recommend you add this to your reading pile this summer/winter!
Release Date: November 2011

* AFTER OBSESSION by Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel - Pretty cool cover. I've forgotten what it's about, to be honest. But Carrie Jones co-wrote it, so it could be good! Let me know if you've read this -- seriously, let me know what this book is about.
Release Date: 10 October 2011

What did you get in your mailbox?

I promise I'll be reading a whole lot more, and posting more after my last exam, which is the 17TH OF NOVEMBER. Thanks for the patience, guys! Stay safe, and all of that.

Remember, I'm hosting a giveaway for Brimstone by Alan Skinner! It's open to any Australian resident, and you have until mid-November to enter. Just comment either on the Brimstone review post [here] or even on this post. Just express your interest and I'll enter you.

If only we celebrated Halloween in Australia...

Friday, October 28, 2011

[Review] Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Title: Liesl & Po {goodreads}
Authors: Lauren Oliver
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 11/10/11
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (Hachette AU)
RRP: $22.99
Source: For review (thanks Hachette)
Age: MG+ Ghosts + death
Pages: 308
My Rating:

US edition:

We meet Liesl the night after the day her young father has died. That same day she is visited by a ghost, Po, an eight year old boy who lives on the other side, the territory between life and death that runs parallel to the living world. Po has come to tell her that her father is stuck on the other side, and that she is the only one who can help him cross over. A couple of wooden boxes. Some ashes. Some magic dust. A ghost, its pet, and a boy who forgot to wear a hat in the cold. From these seemingly odd, random characters Oliver weaves the enchanting story of how, with the aid of Liesl, these elements come together over the course of one week to restore love and luster to a world gone grey and heartless.
My thoughts: 

Ever since Liesl's father died, Liesl has been locked up in the attic away from her stepmother and the rest of the world. But one day, she comes face to face with a real ghost, and its name is Po. On the Other Side, things such as gender become unsure... neither one or the other. Po can help her; and when he does, Liesl knows that she has to escape her prison in order to bring her father's soul to rest. She must take her father's ashes, kept in a box, and bury them where they belong. Meanwhile, her longtime admirer, Will - a grubby alchemist's apprentice - has been sent on a mission to deliver a box to a certain influential person. This story starts with a mistake...

First off, cover! I personally think that both this cover, and the US edition, bring justice to the book. While this one brings out the magic even more than the US, and I think the matching colours are pretty cool, the US edition is sure to look great on the shelf. I might even go ahead and purchase the US to match with the rest of my Lauren Oliver books!

LIESL & PO is Oliver's first MG title, and I can totally see the appeal. I would definitely recommend to any parent looking for a good MG read for their child, though I personally really enjoyed it too. There were many fun times, and I loved the lack of seriousness of it all. Mostly, just the presentation of the book is just so easy on the eyes. I shall forever be a sucker for illustrations in novels.

The writing, as expected, is nothing too complex or difficult to understand. It's mostly straight to the point, and reads quickly. Oliver takes advantage of the use of imagery in her writing for this book, and compares well to her YA titles.

What Oliver really excels at in this book is the character selections. They're memorable and each have their own quirks and individualisms. My personal favourite would be Bundle, or maybe even Mo, for anyone curious. The two kids, Liesl and Will, are precious in their innocence of the world and the perils they face ahead of them. Po acts like such a kid, I could swear it was someone I've known before. Just think of most any primary-lower high school *highlight for spoiler* boy, and that is pretty much Po.

LIESL & PO is a highly imaginative and enchanting story that is as heartfelt and sweet as it is witty and cleverly written. The characters are rich in personality; readers will delight in following Liesl as she, along with Will and Po and Bundle, breaks free from her suffocating prison of a home and returns to someplace she thought she would never return to. LIESL & PO is just brilliance.


* cheapest Australian e-store price



All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

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

Challenge: ---

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Squeakers and Buttberp talk books

Hey there readers! I'm just here in between study sessions.

For those who missed it on the Google Reader yesterday, I'm hosting a giveaway for 'Brimstone' by Alan Skinner. You can go check it out HERE. If you're an Aussie resident, all you have to do is comment and you're in the draw for a free physical copy!

Anyway, you might be wondering: What's up with the title of this blog post? Exactly what it says, really. I'm sure a few of you know about this online animated text-to-video maker called XTRANORMAL. "Squeakers and Buttberp" is one of those. Don't tune off just yet! It's actually quite...well, funny.

Each video consists of two bears: one wearing overalls and the other in Native American gear, Squeakers and Buttberp respectively. Squeakers loves to read, and the two bears strike up some conversation and he (though he has a girl's voice) will segue into the newest book he has read. Aaaand Buttberp's only got one think on his mind all the while: hot chicks. Each video is only around 2 mins so they don't take long at all to get through, and many of the books mentioned are actually ones I've enjoyed myself or have wanted to read.

Check them out if you want to watch something bookish but also a bit silly and won't take too long to watch. In a few days my review of LIESL & PO (by Lauren Oliver) will be up. Loved it, and if I could, I'd ramble on about the prettiness of the book and its contents right now, but I've got to get back to work. Thanks for reading, and if you do go watch one of the vids, comment or like!


*I was not asked to mention Squeakers and Buttberp. I thought maybe someone else might appreciate the vids. 
I actually stumbled upon this when looking into 'God is in the Pancakes' by Robin Epstein AGAIN.*

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

[Review & Giveaway] Brimstone by Alan Skinner

Title: Brimstone {goodreads}
Authors: Alan Skinner
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 04/10/10
Publisher: Sibling Press
Source: For review (thanks Sibling Press!)
Age: 14+ Mild to moderate violence and gore
Pages: 300
Series: #1 (Earth, Air, Fire and Water)

My Rating:

At the age of 14, Jenny Swift is torn from her home deep in the forest to become apprenticed to the master alchemist Richard Antrobus. Jenny's mother was a healer from the East who has taught her well and from whom she inherits her exotic looks. But this difference means that she faces suspicion and distrust as she is drawn into a plot to throw the world into chaos. Not only does Jenny have to fight to stay alive amid the treachery and intrigue that surrounds the court of the Duke, but she finds her friendships and loyalties tested to the full. Forced to seek the key to the greatest secrets of the alchemists, Jenny discovers the power that lies within her - skills which could make her the greatest alchemist of any age.
My thoughts: 

What Skinner has written in 'Brimstone' is a cleverly spun tale that draws upon a reader's imagination in ways that any good fantasy novel should. Full of drama, danger, intrigue, magic, astonishment, and Romance with a capital 'R', 'Brimstone' fires up to a good start - as a series starter and a debut novel.
My synopsis: We begin with Jenny Swift, who is taken away from her home in the most horrid conditions she thought possible - only a handful of days left of her mum's life and she will be spending them playing the role of alchemist's apprentice. To one of the most esteemed and acknowledged alchemists in the world, mind, which would serve as a huge honour for anyone. But Jenny just wants to be with her parents and live in their cosy home in the woodlands. As Jenny and Antrobus, the alchemist, reach the great city of Vale, Jenny is thrown into imminent danger. Murder, betrayal...

Cover: Like any book, 'Brimstone' comes with its good points, and its bad points. Cover-wise, I probably would not have taken a second glance at it, to be completely honest. It's nothing to jump over the moon about, and it has a dated look to it. It gets the job done though.

Writing: 3rd perspective. Yes, it did result in a bit of a detached feeling towards the characters. Overall, it was also quite wordy (at times), and I did need to skip passages I found unnecessary. At best, Skinner remembers to include all the senses when describing something that should be dramatic and elicit strong reactions from the reader.

Characters: I liked and appreciated them the same way I would appreciate a Shakespearean character - a good point by far. I think with more character development, that I'm hoping will be in the next books, these characters can go much further and become memorable ones. I don't have a favourite, though I did enjoy the scenes with Emily and Jenny together; they have such a great friendship.

Ending: Definitive, momentous, heartfelt and dramatic. The twists at the end really threw me off, but any twists usually do.

Recommended for any fan of the fantasy/historical genres.

Note: Thank you Sibling Press for the documents and notes on the book, AND the actual book itself! I actually didn't have a look through the notes until afterward, and if I had known there was a character list in there I would have looked further, since there are so many characters in this book!


Check out the first chapter HERE.


* cheapest Australian e-store price



All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

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

Challenge: ---


Giveaway Time!

Australia only, ends 18th of November.

All you have to do is COMMENT below and answer this question: Which is your favourite element - earth, air, fire or water? Include an email address so I can contact you if you win!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

[Review] Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Title: Saving June {goodreads}
Authors: Hannah Harrington
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 01/05/11
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (AU)
RRP: $19.99
Source: For review (thanks G at Harlequin Teen)
Age: 15+  
Drugs, smoking, sexual references, swearing maybe?
Pages: 380
My Rating:

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.
My thoughts: 

I read the majority of this book while on the train on my way to uni - not the best time to read it, appropriate it may seem (train, road get the link?). This book is quite possibly one of my favourite contemporary YA novels, though it firmly sits at #1 for my fave contemp for 2011 (I haven't read LOLA yet, so we'll see). I could sit here and gab on about how much I loved it. Easy.

There's really so much to like in this book, and for me . . . I can't find one thing I didn't like about it. Though some people may be offended by the smoking, drinking and other hijinks that goes on, I found it appropriate and only serves to complexify the characters even more. It's what (some) teens do. Why hide it? Harrington really strips bare these characters she created and fleshes them out to the extremes, to the point where you feel you REALLY know them.

-- I read this book over 3 weeks ago, which makes this REALLY hard to think of what I was going to say, sorry for the rest of this review! --


1. The atmosphere of this book! ROAD TRIP and blasting out totally appropriate music from the car stereo. This book could convince anyone to just head out on an impromptu road trip.

2. Harper and Jake. I love their dynamic - lots of the time they really oppose each other but they can't deny the instant connection they have through June.

3. Laney. What an awesome friend.

4. Heartfelt and funny!

5. Beautiful cover and overall feel of the book - grab a copy (AU) and you'll know what I mean!

6. The places. What would a real road trip be without the pitstops along the way? Harrington is spot on with writing up an interesting and adventurous road trip!

7. Dialogue was realistic and - you guessed it - had me chuckling at times.

SAVING JUNE follows the significant journey that three teens - June, Jake and Laney - take to come to a point where they come to terms with a mutual friend's (June's sister) committed suicide.

Taking the highway on an epic adventure from Michigan to Chicago, the three find out so much more about each other - and the mystery surrounding June's sister - than they ever could have imagined. Readers looking for a realistic portrayal of loss and friendship and romance can stop looking and pick up a copy of this thought-provoking novel.


First lines

"According to the puppy-of-the-month calendar hanging next to the phone in the kitchen, my sister June died on a Thursday, exactly nine days before her high school graduation. May's breed in the golden retriever--pictured is a whole litter of them, nestled side by side in a red wagon amid a blooming spring garden. The word Graduation!! is written in red inside the white square, complete with an extra exclamation point. If she'd waited less than two weeks, she would be June who died in June, but I guess she never took that into account.


" he left, he grabbed me in a stiff-armed hug. In that second I had this feeling, the kind that grabs up by the throat, a desperate desire for him to stay, because he knows Mom so much better than I do, because he might know how to fix this.
     When he pulled back, he ruffled my hair the way he did when I was a kid. Exceept now the gesture felt unnatural, like he was out of practice. And I knew he couldn't fix anything in our family. Not anymore.
     "I'll be in touch, kiddo," he promised, but promises from my father never meant anything before, and I don't expect them to mean anything now.

(p. 33, Harper)

"June wouldn't be so selfish. June wouldn't be so cold. June wouldn't abandom her daughterly duties. Except that she did, permanently, leving me to take the reins of a role I cannot possibly fill. But no one wants to think about that.
     My sister is dead and I'm still being measured up against her ghost. I'm not even surprised.
     So why does it still hurt?

(p. 75, Harper)

"Suddenly I realize it has been almost three hours since my sister crossed my mind at all. A new record. It hurts to think about June, but not thinking about her feels like betrayal. After all, this trip about her. For her. And I deserve to carry all of this. Her ever-present memory. The incessent twinge of guilt in my gut. I deserve every bit of pain I get. I deserve to hurt.

(p. 163, Harper)

My favourite section is, no doubt, pp. 339-343.
The moment where everything before then was leading up to. Beautiful.


* cheapest Australian e-store price


Fishpond * | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile


All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

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

Challenge: 2011 YA Debut Challenge

SAVING JUNE in a song: ...the playlist. XD 

Comment with your own "SAVING JUNE in a song"!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

[Review] Beautiful Days (#2) by Anna Godbersen

Title: Beautiful Days {goodreads}
Authors: Anna Godbersen
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 24/08/11
Publisher: Penguin (AU)
RRP: $19.95
Source: For review (thanks T at Penguin)
Age: 14+
Pages: 350
My Rating:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
My thoughts: 


I'd be lying if I said I was utterly and completely blown away by BEAUTIFUL DAYS. However, with that said, this eagerly awaited sequel really brought me back to the Jazz Era - along with the lives of Cordelia Grey, Astrid Donal and 'Letty Larkspur'. There's mystery, romance, intrigue, fun, tragedy and beautiful days and roaring nights among it all.

The girls are back! Cordelia (on cover this time) is dealing with her father's recent murder, and with the confusing circumstances surrounding that elusive and cold pilotman Max Darby. Astrid is about to be wed with Charlie Grey but yearns for the constant excitement that only a night out in the town can provide. And little miss Letty is going to go after her dreams of making it big - no matter what.

Once again, in this review I'd like to say that I have not read the THE LUXE series, so I can't draw any comparisons between the two series. If you're looking for a great summer read - this will be among the top of the list. BEAUTIFUL DAYS takes place during the LAST SUMMER of the Jazz Era, which can only mean one thing for the next instalment to the series. ;) I for one can't wait for the drastic changes!

Godbersen continues to utilise the third person multiple perspectives style that she has used in all her past novels. Anyone who has read any of Godbersen's novels will know exactly what to expect, writing-wise. What Godbersen continues to do well is switch between these girls with such ease that you're barely even aware of it. I love how she does go over the appearances of each scene and notable character, so that you're actually able to visualise every scene precisely how Godbersen has imagined it.

The girls are even more glamorous in this book. I rekindled my love for both Letty and Cordelia, but I just couldn't stand Astrid most of the time. She's pretty whiney and in her naivety gets into so many stupid situations. I don't even want to talk about her that much. I applaud Charlie for his patience, no matter how slight they were. He was going through so much crap throughout this book, what with his bootlegging business, that he didn't need his silly fiance to ruin things for him. Anyway, Letty really matures during the course of this book, and it shows. I think she's always been my favourite of the three, just because she has that unmasked sincerity and girlish charm to her that never goes away. Cordelia revels in her luxury, and although she does have a few hiccups here and there, she's self-assured and confident and a glittering picture of the Jazz Era.

There is so much romance/flirting in this book! Nothing that really swept me off my feet or had me swooning, mind you, but you can't review this book without mentioning the voluptuous amount of suitors for each girl. Okay, maybe it wasn't a whole hoard or anything, but still. The pairs that matter are Cordelia x Max, Letty x Grady (he's back!) and Astrid x Charlie. My favourite is definitely the first - I just soaked up the events that follow their relationship.

One thing that did bother me (other than Astrid) was the almost lack of direction in this installment. There isn't one really undercurrent storyline running throughout the book, more like a bundle of stories that are intertwined together. I guess it is hard for that to happen in this kind of era, but I don't know. Anyone else feel that way?

What I really love is that Charlie Grey takes on such a large role during this book, compared to BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS. I didn't like how he kept secrets from his fiance - which gave her even more the reason to oppose him and go do stupid things - but...I liked his character.

For fans of a delectable read, BEAUTIFUL DAYS picks up where BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS left off. This time, the summer is hot, the romances and betrayals even hotter. Godbersen hits the nail on the head with maintaining a solid storyline for each girl, and intertwining these stories to form a coherent plot.


First lines

"I have three simple wishes.They're really not too much to ask.
     The first is to attend the winter formaal dressed like Marie Antoinette. I want a wig so elaborate it could cage a bird and a dress so wide I'll only be able to enter the dance through a set of double doors. But I'll hold my skirts high as I arrive, so everyone can see that, underneath the frills, I'm punk-rock tough. 
     The second is for my parents to approve of my boyfriend. ...
     And my third wish?
     To never ever ever see the Bell twins ever again. Ever.


"My father has been dead barely a month." Her voice trembled a little, but her words fell with violent precision. "He wasn't a bad man, and he did all he could for himself and his family. He didn't begrudge other people their choices, and he left a life grander than the one he was born into. So you'll not say 'bootlegger' to me in that righteous tone again." She took another sip of the drink, and then thrust both the glass and the pitcher forward with sudden force, so that Max had no choice but to take them. Then, learning forward, holding his gaze, and almost hissing, she concluded: "Don't expect me to act like some ashamed nothing just because you talk so high and mighty. I know who I am."

(p. 51, Cordelia - kicking ass as always)

"I've eaten some bad meals in my time." He paused for effect, and more or less subdued the smile he'd been wearing since she'd begun to act carefree again. "This may possibly be the most inedible plate of food I have even been served in my long years of eating."
     "You bastaard!" she hooted. "The worst? You're in trouble now, my friend--earlier I was going easy on you when it came to our little game, but now I shall show you no mercy."
     "Ah, it's on then?" he replied with a wise smile.
     "Indeed it is, mister." She sat up straight in her chair and focused on her hand.

(pp. 168-169, Astrid and Victor - Charlie's man ~ Astrid cooked dinner for Charlie, and burnt the roast and oversalted the potatoes in the process. In the end, Charlie had 'things to do' and so she was left with a babysitter. Victor. Astrid and Victor just had dinner and now they're playing gin rummy.)

Letty's feet were heavy and her chest felt like one big days-old bruise that keeps getting kicked. She wished ... Gracy had any girl but Peachy at his side. For the sight of her long legs had always made Letty seem short, as her rich dress made Letty feel poor, and the length of her neck and the way she carried her head perched on top of it could reduce Letty to nothing. The bruised sensation spread outward from her heart to the pit of her stomach and up to her temples, and she began to take in the full scope of her loss.

(p. 295, Letty on Grady)

In a black dress, with her face framed by a gold headress, Letty was a vision of a much more experienced performer. Her eyes danced across the audience and she raised her arms, slow and sure, as her voice swelled. Cordelia thought of her when they first became friends, when they were still girls and Letty blushed when anyone said even the most casual thing to her. It was incredible that this was the same girl. If Cordelia had told any of the men along the bar watching Letty, rapt, that she was just seventeen and had only arrived from Ohio in May, she knew they would have fallen off their stools in surprise.

(p. 313, Cordelia on Letty as she performs)


Sorry for the long quotes. Godbersen writes really long passages and they're only effective when they are quoted in their entirety.


* cheapest Australian e-store price



All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

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

Challenge: ---


BEAUTIFUL DAYS in a song (2): Sara Bareilles - Fairytale x Sara Bareilles - Gravity

Okay. Let me explain. I really don't listen to jazz, and so this is the best I could find. Or I just really love Sara Bareilles. Both statements are correct, really...

Fairytale because it has that smooth jazzy tone to it, and I guess it could represent the kickass independence of Letty/Cordelia. Also, this is what I imagine Letty would have sounded during her big moment.

"'Cause i don't care for your fairytales
You're so worried bout the maiden though you know
She's only waiting on the next best thing

And Gravity because of THIS. The lyrics might also apply to all the pairs mentioned up up above in the "my thoughts" section.

"Something always brings me back to you.
It never takes too long.
No matter what I say or do I'll still feel you here 'til the moment I'm gone.

But you're neither friend nor foe though I can't seem to let you go.
The one thing that I still know is that you're keeping me down

- Cordelia x Max
"You loved me 'cause I'm fragile.
When I thought that I was strong.
But you touch me for a little while and all my fragile strength is gone.

- Astrid x Charlie

 Also. For Letty, Rebecca Black's "My Moment". You can't deny that it matches really well for her story. I can imagine her sing something like this during her big moment on stage. Of course, a big coarser and with jazziness coursing through every note sung.

Comment with your own "BEAUTIFUL DAYS in a song"!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox (44-51): 2 months of mail!!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren, and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie! Participants are required to tell all about what they've received in the mail--anything bookish!


2 months may suggest piles upon piles of books, but actually the books have been trawling their way to my place. I only have 4 bought books to show for the 2 months so I'm more than pleased with myself. :P


Continue! :D

Saturday, October 1, 2011

[Review] Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door {goodreads}
Authors: Stephanie Perkins
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 03/10/11
Publisher: Penguin (AU)
RRP: $19.95
Source: For review (thanks Penguin!)
Age: 14+
Pages: 350
My Rating:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
My thoughts: 

Just about perfection. THIS was just what I needed. Stephanie Perkins, you have done it again.


I'm almost at a loss for words.

Also, since I'm just wired this way, I noticed 4 grammatical errors in my *finished* copy. Nothing too major, otherwise I'd probably report it, haha. Just thought I'd say it for the sake of saying it.

San Francisco seeps out of this book like a soothing song. The story of Delores 'Lola' Nolan had me feeling and doing very, very similar things to when I joined Anna Oliphant's journey in France. It really makes me breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn't just the setting of France that had me so caught up in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I smiled, I giggled/laughed/chuckled, cried, fought back tears (losing in the end), felt frustrated, annoyed, confused. Perkins just has that effect on me. :P

In LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, we have Lola Nolan, a budding designer with a wacky and totally awesome sense of style. She's got a badass rocker boyfriend who is exactly five years senior to her seventeen years of age. And her best friend Lindsey and gay parents Andy and Nathan care deeply for her. Everything in her life seems to be really heading up as her impending future becomes more and more realistic. Until. The Bell family move into the house next door, again. And Lola deals with the struggle as waves of unresolved feelings for the boy next door resurface. When she discovers that one piece in her life really did not - and never did - fit, what happens next for them?

Crappy non-spoilery synopsis for an awesome book. I love the dynamic between Lola and Cricket, the 'boy next door'. I loved his little quirks - the wristbands, the writing on the back of his hand, the hair that consistently sticks up, the 'tight pants' (hehe for bold), his insect-like-ness. Lola's such a complex character, and I love that she fights this inner turmoil about her identity. Who is the real Dolores? Her sewing prowess sounds like a force to be reckoned with, and I loved reading about the costumes she wears. Together, they are really cute. The development is just so realistic. Cricket comes and goes, and he has this whole life outside of his waning love for Lola. It's painful watching them go around in circles, but it just makes their ending that much more satisfying.

Anna and St. Clair make their appearance, as Perkins promised. It's great that we get to see their future, that they're stronger than ever and they complement each other to the max. I was actually expecting the couple only to be a really tiny part in the story, but they played a much bigger part than I thought. If you were suffering from post-ANNA withdrawal, you'll be pleased to know that they're as humorous and sickeningly sweet and perfect for each other, just as they were. They offer a nice support for Lola during her times of distress and help her come to terms with her tumultuous feelings. Seal of approval!

So. Gay parents. Never before in my life have I read a book whose main character's parents were gay. And they are awesome, Andy and Nathan. I'll admit that at times I had a hard time differentiating the two, but they are great parents who act like TWO protective parents. One a little more forgiving and sensitive than the other, as is the norm with 'normal' parents. Also, Nathan's younger sister, Norah. No spoilers there, but I enjoyed her presence in Lola's life.

Writing-wise, you can expect a style in a similar vein to ANNA. First person. Lola has a great voice and it really comes through in LOLA. Some of the humour present in this book actually comes from her narrative voice and how it relates to what's really going on. Perkins' writing is pretty solid, apart from the four errors (and there might be more) that the editors didn't pick up.

As YA romances tend to be, LOLA is predictable. And that's not a bad thing in any sense of the word. There are little subplots that really make this book, among ANNA, stand out among the genre. Lindsey and her own problems, Calliope Bell's ice-skating career . . . It's not like I knew every single thing that was going to happen, but I really just mean predictable in the way that events would generally unfold. It's obvious from the start that . . . (highlight for maybe spoilers) Lola and Max have a falling out and slowly she and Cricket close the gap and move from awkward kind-offriends, to something more.
Perkins masterfully sculpts a story that's hard to pull away from. I loved it all! Now, for Isla's story in ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER! I'm so excited to really read more about Isla's character - we barely got a glimpse at all in ANNA.

And now for a list:
  1. Anna and St. Clair
  2. Lola's wicked sense of style
  3. A must for anyone who even likes contemporary novels, YA or otherwise
  4. A romance that isn't starcrossed, nor is it instantaneous or unrealistic or ridiculous or convenient or the only plot point of the book
  5. Parents who beat the YA stereotype of:
    a) absenteeism or negligence,
    b) no gay parents,
    c) no awesome parents, full stop
  6. Stephanie Perkins.
  7. Laugh out loud HILARIOUS
  8. Openly tear up DEPRESSING (at some points)
  9. The main character is actually IN a relationship at the beginning, and we get to see a realistic deterioration of that relationship
  10. And for emphasis, Stephanie Perkins!! Come on. 


First lines

"I have three simple wishes.They're really not too much to ask.
     The first is to attend the winter formaal dressed like Marie Antoinette. I want a wig so elaborate it could cage a bird and a dress so wide I'll only be able to enter the dance through a set of double doors. But I'll hold my skirts high as I arrive, so everyone can see that, underneath the frills, I'm punk-rock tough. 
     The second is for my parents to approve of my boyfriend. ...
     And my third wish?
     To never ever ever see the Bell twins ever again. Ever.


     What a powerful, frightening word. It represented my feelings toward him, but every night, my dreams placed it inside his mouth.
     I needed him to touch me. I was obsessed with the way his hands never stopped moving. The way he rubbed them together when he was excited, the way he sometimes couldn't help but clap. The way he had secret messages written on the back of his left. And his fingers. Long, enthusiastic, wild, but I knew from watching him build his machines that they were also delicate, careful, precise. I fantasized about those fingers.

(p. 65, Lola)

""Lola." He rolls his chair over to my side. "I know things are shite right now. And in the name of friendship and full disclosure, I went through something similar last year. When I met Anna, I was with someone else. And it took a long time before I found the courage to do the hard thing. But you have to do the hard thing."
     I swallow. "And what's the hard thing?"
     "You have to be honest with yourself."

(p. 250, √Čtienne St. Clair - who else?)


* cheapest Australian e-store price


Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile *


All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

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

Challenge: ---

LOLA in a song: Katy Perry - Thinking of you
"Oh I wish that I
Was looking into your eyes


He kissed my lips
I taste your mouth
He pulled me in
I was disgusted with myself

Cause when I'm with him
I am thinking of you


You're the best
And yes I do regret
How I could let myself
Let you go
Comment with your own "LOLA in a song"!
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