Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tagged!

So, I've been tagged. Twice.  I was first tagged by Laura @ Colorimetry and then by Cayce @ Fighting Dreamer. I feel so special!

You probably wondering what all this tagging stuff is all about. I know I was. Basically someone thinks up 11 questions and then tags 11 people to answer those questions. Those 11 people then create their own questions and tag 11 more people and so on and so forth etc. etc. etc. Fun, right?

The Rules

  1. You must post the rules. 
  2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged. 
  3. Tag eleven people and link to them on your post. 
  4. Let them know you've tagged them! 

Laura's Questions 

1. Do you have an all-time favorite book? Which one?
I don't have one favourite book, I could rattle off the names of books I love but I just can't pick one book that is an all time favourite. 
2. If you could move into a book, which book would it be? (Your favorite?)
Any Jane Austen book because I would love to live in that time period or Gone With the Wind for similar reasons. 
3. Is there a scene burned on your memory? Do share!
Umm...I can't think of anything off the top of my head. :(   
4. Is there an author that you own (almost) all of their books? Who?
Jane Austen and John Green. 
5. What question would you ask any author?
I have know idea...that's a really tough one! 
6. What book did you rate the highest in the past month or two? Why?
Fault is In Our Stars by John Green. As for why, do I really need to answer that? 
7. Have you pre-ordered a book for 2012? Which one(s) can't you wait to get?
I haven't pre-ordered a book for 2012. I mainly get my books from my local library. I am looking forward to reading the second installment in Meg Cabot's Abandon series, Underworld, after just having read and reviewed Abandon
8. I'm looking for a great read... what book do you recommend?
Raw Blue by Kirsty Edgar or Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley. Two of the best Aussie YA books  I read last year.
9. What would you like to see more of in books?
Less cliches and more realism. 
10. Describe to me what sort of person YOU would be in a book!
The shy nerdy girl who's always reading a book! lol. 

Cayce's Questions 

1. If you could go to one place (a real one) you've read about where would it be 
I've never been to Uluru (Ayers Rock). I'm not sure I could handle the scorching hot weather so far up north, but it would be cool to see. I loved reading about the road trip to see it in Phillip Gwynne's YA novel Swerve
2.  Do you have a favorite author? Who?
Not really. I do love John Green though. 
3. How many books have you read last year?
I have no idea. Maybe 50... ???
4. If you could change the ending of any book, which book would it be and how?
I would change any books where a main character dies at the end. I hate sad endings.  
5.  Ebook of dead tree?
I like both. I love my Kindle, but I also love reading physical books. It puts me in a different mindset when I read on my Kindle, and sometimes I really want to read an actual book.  
6. What are you going to read next?
The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
7. What's your most favorite place to read?
In bed or curled up on the couch. 
8. Do you have a pet? What kind?
I have a Cavoodle. He's a little fluff ball of cuteness. 
9. What is your newest favorite song?
Oh Land does a cover of the National's Bloodbuzz Ohio which I am really liking at the moment. 
10. What is your favorite movie?
The Big Lebowski. 
11. Coffee or tea?
Both. I start my day with coffee and end it with tea.

Here are my questions. 
1. Fill in the blank. When I'm not reading I'm ______
2. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? 
3. What's the best non-YA book you've read recently? 
4. What was your favourite book as a child and why? 
5. What song or artist are you loving at the moment? 
6. What food/drink/ is unique to where you live? 
7. What is your favourite Disney movie? If you haven't watched/don't care for Disney, what's your favourite cartoon? 
8. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be? 
9. What was the last book that made you cry? 
10. What would you name the autobiography of your life? 
11. If they made a movie of your life who would play you?  

And here are the people I've tagged. 
1. Celine and Ela @ YA Anonymous 
3. Joanne @ The Reading Owl 
4. Tabitha @ Tabitha's Book Blog
6. The Romance Bookie @ The Romance Bookie
7. Jenny @ Bookwormia
8. Jamie @ A Book Club Of One
9. Manda-rae @ Manda-rae Reads A Lot
11. Kate @ Kate's Book Life 



Saturday, 18 February 2012

Book Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Title: Abandon
Author: Meg Cabot 
Released: April 2011



Summary: Pierce knows what it's like to die, because she's done it before. 
Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone . . . because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back. But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away . . . especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld. The myth of Persephone...darkly reimagined. - from Goodreads

My Review: 

Abandon is based loosely on the myth of Persephone and Hades and is told from the point of view of Pierce, a 17 year old girl who died and was brought brought back to life when she was 15 years old. Since the NDE (Near Death Experience) Pierce's life has irrevocably changed, as she struggles to deal with what occurred while she was in the afterlife. The story goes back and forth from present to past tense to reveal tidbits about Pierce's past and the circumstances that brought her from Connecticut to the Florida Keys. Cabot uses foreshadowing and the slow revelation of Pierce's story to keep readers interested in the narrative. Just when you think you have it all worked out there is a new mystery to untangle and even a very surprising twist. Not every mystery is resolved at the end of the novel and it finishes with a bit of a cliffhanger, which I guess is to be expected given that Abandon is the first novel in a series of three. 

It would be easy to pin Pierce down as nothing more than a spoilt rich girl, however  her caring nature, which is what attracts Lord of the Underworld, and love interest, John Hayden to her, and her deep sense of being an 'outsider' and abandonment made her a compelling character. The  interactions between Pierce and John were minimal, and revealed mostly in flashbacks. In Abandon Cabot establishes the groundwork for what looks to be a promising series. I'm really looking forward to reading the next installment and getting all my questions answered! 


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Follow Friday #2

Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Being new to blogging I'm hoping this will be a good way to make new friends! 


Q: BeefcakeandBabes Asks: I like unique names for characters and am looking forward to coming up with some when I start writing. What’s the most unique character name you’ve come across?


I'm not sure if Hermione is considered a unique name or not (maybe it's totally popular in England), but for a long time after reading the first few books in the Harry Potter series I had no idea how to pronounce her name. It was only when the movies came that I was like, Oh so that's how you're suppose to say it. 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Book Review: Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman

Title: Babe in Boyland 
Author: Jody Gehrman 
Released: February 2011


Summary: When high school junior Natalie - or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper - is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want. But the guys in her class won't give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected - especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover? - from Goodreads


My Review: Babe in Boyland is a funny and cute read that is sure to please those who are into the whole cross-dressing girl in an all boys school thing (yes, it's a thing with a strong following or so I here). With striking similarities to the Amanda Bynes movie She's the Man, Babe in Boyland treads familiar ground as 17 year old Natalie Rowan dresses as a boy and infiltrates an all boys school to gain insight into why boys do the things they do (man, if it only it were that easy).  


Yes it's a little far-fetched, yes you must suspend your belief in reality, yes there are cliches to no end, and yes it is quite predictable. There were no big surprises here. And I honestly wasn't expecting or wanting anything too deep when I started reading this novel. The cover of the book screams zany, fun times, and that's what it delivered. That's not to say that there is not substance to Gehrman's genderbender tale because there are lessons to be learned and interesting observations on teenage relationships and self esteem.


Natalie is a funny and likable protagonist who despite being a little full of herself at the start of the novel is a relatable and three dimensional character. The only pitfall of the novel was that the romance between Nat and her sensitive and hot roommate Emilio seemed a bit rushed given that the story took place over one week. Nevertheless, Babe in Boyland is a light, fluffy, amusing read that is sure to entertain and delight.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Follow Friday 1#




Feature and Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Being new to blogging I'm hoping this will be a good way to make new friends! 
Q: What would your prefer: reading your favorite book over and over again until you got sick of it OR reading 100s of mediocre books? And why?
This is a really tough question, but I would have to say that I would rather read 100s of mediocre books. I would hate to ruin a book that I loved by reading it to death, and I don't often reread books (even the one's I absolutely adore). Even though the books may be mediocre at least there would be variety and new kinds of stories, worlds and characters to delve into and discover. 



Book Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Scorpio Races
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Released: October 18th 2011


Summary: It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. - From Goodreads

My Review: 

I've never really liked 'Horse' stories (or any kind of animal stories for that matter). Maybe it was left over resentment towards my parents who never bought me a pony even though for the first 7 years of my life it was all I dreamed of (it was going to be a lovely caramel coloured pony with a white silky-soft mane and would be called Buttercup).  Maybe it had something to do with  being forced to watch one too many episodes of The Saddle Club, or in my later years Mcleod's Daughters (for any non-Australian's reading McLeod's Daughters was an Australian TV drama series which contained a lot of horse riding). Or maybe it was because I never read a story where the horses where not only otherworldly, but deadly flesh eating killer sea horses. 

Now I know that sentence sounds a tad bit strange. Flesh eating killer sea horses, you say? How preposterous. But really this story is so much more than just sea horses. Stiefvater brings to life the fictional island of Thisby with rich and beautifully intricate descriptions of this island town. Thisby really was a character unto itself and even now I can picture so vividly the house where Kate "Puck" Connoly and her two brothers live, and the beach were the deadly and mystical water horses emerge from. 

I was not only pulled into this story by the atmospheric setting but by the cast of characters who were the heart and soul of this story. It was not only the strong main characters, Puck and Sean, but the secondary characters who are wonderfully illustrated by Stiefvater, such as George Holly - the American tourist, the three sisters who own the shop selling trinkets, Tommy Halk with the pretty lips, and Peg, the butcher's wife, who could cut your heart out neat. 

The Scorpio Races is a compelling novel that is slightly dark, a tad gory in parts (the horses, they eat flesh mmmkay?), a smidge romantic in less parts, and a lot about the characters and their relationships with each other.

Recommended for horse lovers and horse haters. 

Final Note: Maggie Stiefvater has posted the recipe for November Cakes (a delicious treat that is featured in the book). I will most definitely be trying out this recipe and will be sure to post my results. Yummo! 




This book was read for The Eclectic Reader Challenge in the YA category. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Bookish Things #1


Here are some bookish things I'm coveting....


1. Baby Lit: Pride & Prejudice from lfla - a cute way to introduce your youngins to classic literature. 2. Cupcake Lip Balm from ThinkGeek - not particulary bookish but I can't go past anything cupcake flavoured. yum! 3. Know It All Pencil Set found on Svpply - fun facts on your pencils. 4. Wooden Book Rack found on Svpply - an interesting way to display books (apparently no books were harmed in the making of the rack). 5. Library Stack Necklace from Anthropologie - if I was one to wear jewelry I would definitely own one of these babies. 6. Library Sign from Three Potato Four  - just what I need for when I create my own library. 


Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2012



One of my goals for this year is to read outside of my comfort zone, so I'm pleased to be participating in the Ecletic Reader Challenge hosted by Book’d Out. The challenge is simple enough; read 12 books from 12 different genres. The genres and my (tentative) picks are as follows: 

1. Literary Fiction 
???


2. Crime/ Mystery Fiction
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler 


3. Romantic Fiction 
The Princess Bride by William Goldman 


4. Historical Fiction 


The Help by Kathryn Stockett 


5. Young Adult 
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater 


6. Fantasy
Delirium by Lauren Oliver 
`

7. Science Fiction 
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 


8. Non Fiction 
Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson 


9. Horror 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


10. Thriller / Suspense 
?????


11. Classic 
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 


12. Favourite Genre 
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green 



Review: Swerve by Phillip Gwynne


One of Australia's finest young cellists, 16 year-old Hugh Twycross has a very bright future. A future that has been mapped out by his parents, his teachers, by everybody, it seems, except Hugh Twycross. Hugh has a secret, though: he loves cars and he loves car racing. When his newly discovered grandfather, Poppy, asks him to go on a road trip to Uluru in his 1970 Holden HT Monaro, Hugh decides, for once in his life, to do the unexpected.
As they embark on a journey into the vast and fierce landscape of the Australian interior, Hugh discovers that Poppy has a secret that will unravel both their lives and take them in a direction they never expected. - Blurb from Goodreads.





Hugh Twycross is a guy who knows where he’s going in life. A private school boy with a cello audition at the prestigious Conservatorium, Hugh is not one to diverge from the straight and narrow path of his life. That is until Poppy, the grandfather Hugh never knew existed, suggests a road trip to Ayres rocks in his 1969 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350 V8. And from than on out the straight and narrow starts to get a bit curvy as Hugh and Poppy venture out into the dangerously beautiful Australian terrain.

Swerve is a classic road trip story set against an Australian backdrop that bursts with imagery and realism. The dusty red surrounds and wide-open endless bitumen roads provide the perfect setting this hair-raising coming of age road trip. Road trips in young adult fiction give teenage characters the ability to break free from the humdrum of everyday life and to be spontaneous, experience new things and meet different kinds of people away from the watchful gaze of parents. 

Swerve differs slightly from others in this genre as it is Poppy, an older parental figure (who is somewhat of a hippy), who forces Hugh to take this journey of self-discovery and gets him to let loose. The relationship between Hugh and Poppy is the heartwarming highlight of this story, as throughout their journey they grow closer and bond over their shared love of Holden cars. It is entertaining to watch as Poppy’s “Screw that” attitude gets rubbed off on to straight-laced Hugh, and the book provides many disturbingly comedic moments, as well as touching on some serious issues. 

All-in-all, Swerve is a quintessential Aussie road trip story, with enough adventure, twists and turns, and grunt to captivate even those amongst us who don’t know a Torana from a Toyota.


Friday, 3 February 2012

Review: The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner





When Aaron gets a job at a funeral home, he surprisingly takes to it. But there are dark secrets hidden in Aaron’s subconscious. He experiences dangerous bouts of sleepwalking and recurring dreams he can’t explain: a lifeless hand, a lipsticked mouth, a man, a gun... Can he piece the clues together and fi gure out the truth of his past? - Blurb from Goodreads. 






The Dead I Know is suspenseful story that is grim, dark, slightly surreal, and yet bitingly real. We are first introduced to Aaron, the teenage protagonist, as he is applying for a job at a funeral parlour. Unshaven and uncommunicative Aaron is revealed in the opening paragraphs as being someone who keeps his thoughts, feelings and words to himself. Right from the beginning there is an air of mystery surrounding Aaron. In the opening chapter Mr. Barton, remarks on Aaron’s peculiar accent and asks Aaron if he would know his parents; Aaron’s answer ‘hung in the air like a balled fist’.


The mystery of Aaron is what drew me in and kept me captivated, as I waited to see how the story would unravel. Aaron’s strange and bone -chilling dreams are peppered throughout the story and leave the reader, and Aaron, feeling unsettled and on edge.  Even though the story is told entirely from the point of view of Aaron it is extremely hard to get a grasp on exactly what is going on and very little details are revealed surrounding Aaron’s past, yet the reader can’t help but like him. The way he cares for his Mam who is becoming forgetful and showing signs of dementia makes the reader feel sympathy and to care for this young man who is been dealt a hard lot in life.

The language is simple and the style easy to read, with short chapters that keep the story moving along. Given the subject matter, and the setting of the funeral parlour, the narrative is at times disturbing and might make some readers a little squeamish when the characters are dealing with the dead. Yet there are moments when the story breaks free from this gritty realism and there are sparks of humour and light throughout the book. Ultimately the story is hopeful, and is surprisingly more about living than dying.



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