Friday, July 31, 2015

Follow Friday #78

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly event hosted by Parajunkee & Alison of Alison Can Read.

The question this week is:

If you could get an ARC of any book, already published, or not yet, what would it be? - Suggested by
Words I Write Crazy

I didn't even have to think about this one. Definitely the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Illustrated Edition!!

Book Review #569 - Moth to the Flame (Woody Creek #3) by Joy Dettman


My Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Pan MacMillan Australia

Buy: Publisher


Moth to the Flame picks up this epic story and we see Jenny bravely moving on with her life.

She takes refuge with Ray King, a slightly sinister, stuttering boy who disappeared from Woody Creek as a teenager but has now reappeared. 

In return for regular "wifely duties", Ray offers Jenny and her three children sanctuary at his house in Melbourne. For a time, she 

is happy. 

But then Jenny's father - the philandering impresario Archie Foote - storms back into her world and chaos reigns again. Archie recognises Jenny's brilliance and offers her a second chance - a way to escape the domestic drudgery and finally fulfill her dream. But when you have three children, one missing husband and another with a dark secret, dreams have a habit of turning into nightmares... 

The way the second book Thorn on the Rose ended I can't believe I waited so long to return to the enchanting little town of Woody Creek. 

I was a bit disappointed therefore that only a portion (the second half) was set there, the other half being set in Melbourne. 

Although I liked how this enabled us to see just how isolated and behind the times Woody Creek was in comparison to the larger city. 

As Jimmy is one of my favourite characters I liked that he played a pivotal role, but didn't like that he wasn't present much. 

Margot is one of the most irritating characters - she is as equally as bad as Sissy or Amber in the first book. 

I love how quickly this story progresses. It doesn't feel like that many pages ago that Jenny was born and now she is 34 years old and likely to be a grandparent soon (not a spoiler as I am only hypothesizing this). 

I nearly stopped reading this book twice due to plot twists I didn't agree with but couldn't stay away from it for very long as I am very much compelled to finish the entire series. 

Right now there are so many elements going on particularly with Jenny's four children and I am looking forward to when they start to merge. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It could easily have been a five star rating but I just felt that it wasn't as good as the previous two. 

This book starts in 1946 and deals with the post-war era. The way that it ends will make you want to have Wind in the Wires in your hands as soon as possible. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review #568 - The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin


My Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Bought

Buy: The Book Depository


An enchanting tale of courage and sacrifice for young readers and adults by the wildly popular George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series that inspired HBO's Emmy Award-winning GAME OF THRONES. 

Lavish illustrations by acclaimed artist Luis Royo enrich this captivating and heartwarming story of a young girl and her dragon. 

In the world of A Song of Ice and Fire the ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember. 

Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara's home. 

And only a winter child-and the ice dragon who loved her-could save her world from utter destruction.

Even though the no setting is named, it is not hard to imagine this enchanting little tale being set somewhere in Westeros - the setting of A Song of Ice of Fire. 

This book is visually stunning. The illustrations by Luis Royo were amazing and although they complimented the story perfectly, they also told a story of their own. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review #567 - Hammering Iron by L.S Lawrence


My Rating: 2.5/5

Source: Scholastic Australia

Buy: Booktopia


In ancient Greece, sometime between the stories of Homer and the histories of Herodotus, something happened that changed the world. Two brothers, Niko and Paramon, one destined to serve a lord and the other to serve a merchant, are forced apart. One must stay; the other must follow his lord wherever he goes. Paramon is thrown back on his own resources, but will do everything he can to make his own way. And his destiny is to discover a secret that will change everything, a secret that men will not hesitate to kill for.

Since I started reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, High Fantasy is no longer a genre that I avoid. 

I am going to split this book into thirds to review as this is how the book is written. 

The first third basically just introduced the characters, the basic premise and the somewhat confusing landscape. I know there was a map at the beginning of the book, but most of the cities mentioned were not even on the map. 

The second third was where my interest in the book started to decrease. 

There wasn't any action apart from Paramon's innovative ideas in sword making. 

There was also an excessive amount of inner dialogue which slowed the pacing of the book. 

This book isn't very character focused. There are not very many characters at all. The protagonist Paramon did not develop much over the course of the book. 

The third portion of the book is also the third location  where the story picks up a bit. This was my favourite portion of the book. 

Overall, I felt like this was predominately a historical book - a what if of the period between Herodotus and Homer's writings with a story weaved around it. 

I didn't feel like these two aspects gelled well together as was necessary to make this book work. As a consequence, I found this book rather confusing. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review #566 - When You're Back (Rosemary Beach #12) by Abbi Glines


My Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Simon and Schuster Australia

Buy: TBD


Love is a journey - Rosemary Beach is the destination...The future is bright for Reese Ellis. She has Mase Colt-Manning, the man of her dreams, and a family she didn't know existed until her long-lost father arrived on her doorstep in Rosemary Beach. Everything is finally falling into place. While Reese is visiting her new family in Chicago, Mase spends time with his "cousin," Aida, who has worshipped him since childhood. Unrelated by blood, Mase and Aida have been raised to think of each other as family. But when Reese returns, she can tell something isn't quite right. Aida clearly resents Reese and excels at manipulative little games. And though Mase is unsuspecting, Reese knows Aida doesn't love him like a cousin should...

This is the 12th book in the Rosemary Beach series. I had not read the previous 11 books and I had not problems understanding this book. They seem to be more companions to one another rather than follow a continuous plot so don't feel worried about reading them in order. 

This book is first and foremost a romance book. This is not usually my type of book as I prefer romance to be more of a sub-plot but I found that I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. 

As I hadn't read the other 11 books the characters obviously weren't familiar to be but I found that I grasped pretty quickly the dynamics of it all. 

The characters were a little stereotyped but that didn't really bother me as it wasn't that much of an issue. 

The plot seemed a little all over the place. The cousin disappears for a large chunk of the book and didn't turn out to be as big an issue as the synopsis would suggest. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review #565 - The Sound of Whales by Kerr Thomson


My Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Scholastic Australia

Buy: TBD


Three children are spending their summer on a wild Scottish island. Fraser is desperate for adventure; Hayley is fed up she's even there; while Dunny spends his days staring out to sea. He hasn't said a word in years. But everything changes with the discovery of two bodies on the beach: a whale and a man. Fraser and Hayley see a mystery-adventure to be solved, but Dunny is inconsolable. And in the end, it will take someone who listens to the sea to put it right.

I loved that this book was set in Scotland as it was a very atmospheric setting. I loved that it was set on a small, remote island as the ocean plays a huge role in the book. 

The three main children worked well together as characters even though they were all completely different from one another. 

Fraser, is a native of Nim, the small Scottish island where the story takes place. He is sick of the boring lifestyle Nim provides and craves adventure. 

Hayley, is an American tourist who is unwillingly thrust upon Nim due to her mother's job. She is outgoing and confident. 

Dunny is Fraser's younger autistic brother who doesn't talk. He is mysterious, unpredictable and his strained relationship with Fraser was a fantastic sub-plot. 

The plot was well developed with a lot of twists and turns. The mystery element was great without being overly predictable. 

As you can probably tell from the title of the book, whales do play a crucial role in the story which I loved. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Movie Review #2 - Paper Towns (2015)

I am still new to reviewing movies so sorry if this doesn't make much sense. I will however try to post more movie review posts here on my blog. They will all likely be book adaptations at this stage though. 

Paper Towns was actually the first ever John Green book that I read. My original review of the book can be found here. 

I was a huge fan of the film adaptation of John Green's other novel The Fault in Our Stars and so was eagerly anticipating the release of this film since it was first announced, 

I was particularly interested to see how Nat Wolff who played a minor role in TFiOS elevate to the major role in this film.

As with all book to movie adaptations parts of are omitted and new scenes created to help the flow of the film. 

With this movie I am going to talk more about the new scenes rather than the omissions (such as Sea World). 

I loved the singing scene, as (without spoiling it) the song choice had everyone in the cinema laughing. 

The biggest reaction though was reserved for a surprise cameo. 

The only negative thing I can say about this film is that I think a bit of the characters wittiness was lost in the translation from book to screen. Other than that I thought it was a very honest and enjoyable adaptation. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review #564 - Seven Days by Eve Ainsworth


My Rating: 3/5

Source: Scholastic Australia

Buy: TBD


This bold, compelling and topical story about bullying is told from the perspective of the bully and the bullied. You won't be able put it down until you've reached the conclusion. Jess's life is difficult enough without Kez picking on her – it’s turning school from a safe place into a nightmare. Kez has plenty of problems too but she finds comfort in knowing she is better off than Jess - or so she thinks. A hard-hitting and even-handed look at bullying and the issues facing teenagers today.

This book follows the lives of two teenage girls Kez and Jess. One is a relentless bully and the other is the spineless victim. I loved the split narration as it gave perspective to both sides of the story. 

Bullying is a really important subject and there really needs to be more books in the YA genre addressing this. 

None of the characters really seemed developed enough. The quality of the writing and its style really made up for this though. 

Overall this was a neat, short, captivating read that just fell short on depth. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Review #563 - Thirst by Lizzie Wilcock


My Rating: 4/5

Source: Scholastic Australia

Buy: Booktopia


Karanda Hooke doesn't need anybody or anything. On her way to her sixth foster home, a crash leaves her stranded in the outback with only a backpack, a bottle of water and a faded picture of the mother she hasn't seen in years. This is her chance to escape her old life. There's only one thing in her way... eight year-old Solomon. 

I love survivalist type stories (both fictional and real life) and so I was interested to read this book. 

I loved that it was set in Australia (even if it was the only state I have yet to visit) as being Australian it made it much more easy to relate to. 

The book was a little unbelievable at times especially concerning the fact that a 14 and 8 year old were missing for who knows amount of time and no one seemed to be looking for them. Solomon's encyclopedia type knowledge of the Australian Outback was also a little unbelievable. 

The plot was rather basic. I felt like there needed to be more plot twists. 

I discovered the link between the two children a good 100 or so pages before it was revealed so in that sense it was rather predictable. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I would recommend this book to anyone other than vegetarians or vegans. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Review #562 - Hacked by Tracy Alexander


My Rating: 3/5

Source: Scholastic Australia

Buy: Book Depository


Dan had been diagnosed as ADHD as a child. He quite liked the ritalin, but then he got into computers, and for his parents a geek was better than something feral. It was hard to remember when the genuine hacking started; but free phone credit was the first illicit, tangible "real-life" results of a hack, though not the last.

By the time Dan is contacted online by "Angel," he is eager for the challenge laid before him - creating tricky bits of code. But Dan begins to suspect that something more nefarious may be planned for his code than he thought. He will have to decide what truly matters more - protecting his anonymity and freedom or preventing a deadly terror attack ...

It took me a seriously long time to read this book and I read it in two parts, months apart. 

The first portion of the book was fast paced. It introduced the characters and the hacking ability of the protagonist Dan, which was surprisingly easy to understand. 

The book slows down considerably in the middle and this is where my bookmark lived for a few months. 

It was during this period that I found Dan quite irritating and immature (he is quite unbelievably 16 years old). He couldn't make up his mind whether to turn himself over to the Police or not after one of his hacks goes way too far and his indecisiveness took way too long. 

I really liked the thrilling suspense of it all. The American Government were the main antagonists (other than Angel, Dan's hacking rival) in this book which I thought was rather unique. 

The romance in this book felt out of place and I think this was mainly because I had to keep reminding myself that these characters were 16 years old and not much younger as they seemed. 

The writing style was rather basic and for that reason I would recommend this book for middle grade readers rather than young adults. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Book Review #561 - Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider


A bitter-sweet, coming-of-age novel that's perfect for fans of John Green and Stephen Chbosky.

When he's sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick teens, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.

But when he meets Sadie and her friends - a group of eccentric troublemakers - he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn't have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure.

Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about true friendships, ill-fated love and the rare miracle of second chances.

There are so many young adult books around at the moment about sick teens but what makes this book different to those is that the teens in this book aren't given an definite death sentence which means they are all hopeful of recovery. 

The book is told through split narration of the two protagonists Sadie and Lane. They are both completely different yet equally intriguing characters. They complimented each other really well. 

Sadie seemed to accept her predicament and settled well into the environment at Latham House whereas Lane constantly mourned for his previous life. 

The only negative thing I can say about this book is that the ending followed all the previous books I have read in this genre and in that sense it was rather predictable. 

I really liked the setting of Latham House and apart from the constant coughing and the lack of dress code, it seemed like a normal school. 

My Rating: 3.5/5

Buy: TBD

Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review #560 - Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick


My Rating: 4/5 

Source: Bought

Buy: TBD

Britt Phieffer has never been that adventurous, but that's about to change. Wanting to impress her ex-boyfriend, Britt convinces best friend, Korbie, to take a trip with her and go trekking through the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming.

But when a freak storm leaves the girls stranded they seek shelter in a cabin, and find two knights in shining armour, Shaun and Mason, who are also hiding out.

But all is not as it seems, and Britt quickly discovers that the guys are there for reasons other than hiking…dangerous reasons that mean they need to get off the mountain, fast. In exchange for her life, Britt is forced to guide them down, and as they set out on a harrowing journey through the cold and snow, Britt realizes the only way to get out of this alive is to pretend she is on their side. 

But playing nice is hard, especially when Britt is unsure whether Mason, gorgeous and sexy, is the enemy or an ally. And as she begins to lose track of who is in control it is only a matter of time before things turn deadly…

I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about this book before I even knew what it was about. Once I read the synopsis I knew I was going to love it as I love survivalist type stories. 

It took me a while to warm up to the protagonist Britt. There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance and Britt crossed it throughout especially in the first portion of the book. 

The plot was enthralling although a little predictable and transparent at times. 

I didn't understand the 'friendship' between Britt and Korbie. I would have liked more closure between them at the end. 

The romance in this book was a unique element as Britt was constantly questioning who she could trust. 

Calvin was the most intriguing character for me in this book. If you've read the book the reason is quite obvious. 

I loved how this book was told through a mixture of past and present as it gave a greater insight into the characters and their relationships with one another. 

Overall I would say that this book met my expectations without exceeding them. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something different to read as this book is entirely unique.